Five days of World Cup calm ended with a volley of bottles and chairs as dozens of German hooligans clashed with police Wednesday in Dortmund before their country's pivotal win over Poland.
It was homegrown hooligans who lashed out about two hours before the late evening kickoff after police confronted them in a central square.
By the time rain began falling after midnight, police said they had arrested more than 300 German and Polish hooligans -- at least 120 Germans in the central square.
The threat of fan violence had been a theme ahead of the monthlong soccer tournament. To head off trouble, authorities across Europe confiscated passports of known troublemakers, increased border patrols and drew up extensive policing plans for the dozen game cities.
The trouble began Wednesday when police spotted about 40 men, later described as hard-core hooligans, and blocked the route between the outdoor area where they sat drinking and a nearby big screen where games are shown for free.
As police began apprehending the men they screamed, "We are Germans, too. We want to go to the big screen," according to witness Cristel Lorenz. Some started throwing bottles and chairs and shooting fireworks; backup police arrived, as did more hooligans, said Lorenz, who was rushed to the safety of a nearby restaurant. Police hauled handcuffed men into a bus outfitted with individual cells.
The Germany-Poland match appeared one of the most potentially dangerous off the field. Although both are now members of the European Union, the contest was laden with symbolism given Germany's World War II invasion of its neighbor.
Trinidad and Tobago's 23 players and their Dutch coach, Leo Beenhakker, have each been promised a barrel of specially aged rum if they win today's match against England.
Nigel Bissoon, marketing manager of the Angostura Group of Companies, the makers of Angostura Aromatic Bitters, said the players were already heroes in their Caribbean country after their 0-0 draw against Sweden last week.
"But they can elevate themselves to a god-like status amongst their fans if they get one over England," Bissoon said in a statement Wednesday. "We hope the barrel bonus will act as an extra incentive for the players as there are few Trinidadians who would not jump at the opportunity to own a full barrel of such fine rum."
Each barrel Angostura is offering as a prize holds 64 gallons of rum.
Argentina will have a 12th man in the dressing room again: Diego Maradona. Argentina's legendary retired star was there for the team's opening 2-1 victory over Ivory Coast, and he's promised to return for Friday's Group C game against Serbia and Montenegro in Gelsenkirchen.
"He told us many of his anecdotes, and we were astonished watching him," defender Roberto Ayala said. "Imagine being with him before a game, in the dressing room, giving the pep talk. You go on the field feeling different when you hear the words and get support from the best player in the world."
A victory Friday, coupled with a Dutch win over the Ivory Coast the same day, would put two-time champion Argentina in the second round.
Maradona brought Argentina its last World Cup title 20 years ago. His last World Cup was 1994 in the U.S.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Argentine striker Lionel Messi and 22-year-old Carlos Tevez have yet to play and are unlikely to start. Team officials said Messi picked up a minor left foot injury in practice Wednesday but was expected to be available.