Germans take hard road to World Cup glory
One of the all-time great World Cup triumphs, writes Tim Vickery
There have perhaps been more convincing World Cup final performances than the one with which Germany produced to beat Argentina by the game’s only goal.
But make no mistake. This is one of the all time great World Cup triumphs. Germany is the first European side to triumph in South America, and they have done it the hard way.
Last year, their general manager and former Striker Oliver Bierhoff came and had a look at the Confederations Cup, and arrived at the conclusion that it would very tough for the Europeans to prevail in such conditions. And that was before December’s draw made things especially hard for his team.
Group of Death
Germany was drawn against Portugal, Ghana and the USA – difficult opponents, in even more difficult locations. All of their group matches were in the tropical North East, with two of them kicking off at 1 p.m. – an hour when it is inconceivable that a big domestic game would be staged.
Then they moved down to the other end of the country and took on the winter cold of the south in Porto Alegre, as well as the feisty Algerians.
It is no wonder they had a flu epidemic. And then they closed off the competition against the heavyweights. They beat France, rated by many as Europe’s best team in the tournament. Then the Germans destroyed South American superpowers in their own continent – a 7-1 rout of the hosts — perhaps the most astonishing World Cup result of all time.
It was a game in which the ‘Brazilian’ football came from the Germans – which in itself gives important background to this memorable success.
A decade ago, German football was utterly lost. They had the courage and the honesty to confront the problem by going back to the drawing board. Step one was to work out their identity. The conclusion, reached by then-coach Jürgen Klinsmann, was that they should be aggressive, playing high tempo in-your-face attacking football.
Meanwhile, they were investing in youth development with a view to producing more skilled youngsters, which meant that soon they had something else to add to the mix.
Now under Joachim Loew, Klinsmann’s former assistant, they sat and studied the Barcelona passing model, and added plenty of it to their own style. Step by step, rational but imaginative, the rebirth of the Germans is an object lesson to other floundering national teams .
They could easily have gone behind to Argentina in the final – indeed, a few of the Argentine players may have sleepless nights reflecting on chances that were wasted. But Germany deserved their win. It was the right result for a tournament.