Germans need World Cup win after recent trophy drought.Three World Cups and three European Championships – Germany’s record at major international tournaments is the envy of many around the world, but their recent history is fast seeing them come dangerously close to becoming labelled ‘also-rans’.
It is widely acknowledged that manager Joachim Low has done a fine job with the German national side in his eight years in charge, introducing a superb generation of young players who have slotted seamlessly into the senior side and produced plenty of impressive displays against some of the world’s best teams.
Even before Low’s appointment, Germany have an immense record of reaching the semi-finals of six of their last seven tournaments, this one included, with only a poor showing at Euro 2004 blotting their recent dominance on the international stage.
Still, there is no trophy for them to show for their efforts, with defeats to Brazil in the 2002 World Cup final and to Spain in the final of Euro 2008 meaning they have now not won anything since Euro 1996 – a real surprise considering their considerable trophy haul prior to then, and the fine teams they have put together since.
As impressive as they have been, they may not be able to afford finishing another competition celebrating a win in the third-place playoff or applauding a heroic effort as beaten finalists. This current Germany squad is, on paper at least, almost certainly the best team left in the competition after surprise early exits for other European giants Spain and Italy, and now they have to show it.
With Spain proving their only obstacle as they got the better of Low’s men in the Euro 2008 final and World Cup semi-final two years later, now may be Germany’s best time to shine as Vicente del Bosque’s side go through something of a rebuilding process after dropping out at this year’s group stage. Although host nation Brazil are benefiting from having the backing of their loyal and vocal fans behind them, they could be vulnerable now in their semi-final meeting without the injured Neymar and the suspended Thiago Silva, as well as generally being a far weaker side than they have been for a long time.
Should Germany reach the final, they would likely face the Netherlands or Argentina, provided dark horses Belgium or Costa Rica don’t defy the odds in sensational fashion to make it past two other forces of international football. Still, despite the attacking prowess of the likes of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie for the Dutch, or Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria for the Argentines, neither of these teams have quite the same depth of quality all over the pitch as Germany, nor do they possess such a group of proven winners, with many of the German squad having been part of Bayern Munich’s recent dominance at club level.
Germany have already passed a big test with a resilient display to beat a much-improved France side 1-0 on Friday, now they must get over their recent habit of falling short just when it matters.
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