When we think of Germany we think: efficiency, ruthlessness and quality in all respects. It is this mentality which has brought the nation its football success ,and what success! Their football achievements are incomparable, as of the 17 world cups they have entered, they have failed to reach the quarter finals only twice, finishing at least third 11 times and winning it 3 times: Efficiency. They have won the most European championships claiming 3 titles: Ruthlessness. They have produced some of the best players in the history of the game: Franz Beckenbauer, one of only two players to have won the World Cup both as a player and as a coach; Lothar Matthäus, captain of the 1990 World cup winning side representing Germany in 5 different World Cups, more than any other outfield player; Gerd Müller, perhaps the most clinical striker in the history of football, 68 goals in 62 games for Germany, holding the world cup record for most goals until 2006: Quality.
We have seen the giants of the game succumb to the pressures exerted on them by their own successes. The Brazilians have never again truly played the beautiful football which was so natural to them during the 60’s and 70’s, very often trying too hard to reproduce that brand of football, directly undermining their success. The English have often had the class but do not possess anything remotely approaching that famous German mentality. The Dutch, perhaps producing the best footballing side ever seen during the 70’s with Cruyffs ‘Total Football’, bottled it in both the 74 and 78 finals, and since then have failed time and time again to demonstrate this same level of quality. The question of how Germany are so absolutely merciless is often asked and the answer is simple, stagnation is not in the German footballing vocabulary.
Over and over again the Germans produce teams that, although perhaps sometimes lacking in world class quality, rarely have any weaknesses and this current side couldn’t fit the German bill any closer, although in this class of 2012 they do have world class, and in abundance. The recent ability of the German team to re-create themselves from an ageing team of has-beens into a youthful team of great spirit and technique is an inspiration for the many countries who have previously tried and failed to mix that blend of youth and experience. Perhaps the worst German side of recent years was the class of 2000 who got knocked out of the group stage from the Euros, yet only two years later reached the final of the World Cup against Brazil. The shock of 2000 was the kick Germany needed to revolutionise their footballing philosophy so that their team again has become something close to a machine. This revolution consisted of the restructuring of the national side, top to bottom, from the under 12s up to the seniors (very similar to the system found at Barcelona). All sides would play one style and the aim would be to develop these youngsters’ progress from age group to age group, nurturing their talent as well as their mentality, so when the time came their introduction into the senior side would be seamless. It has showed. Ozil, Muller, Khadeira and Boateng showcased their talents at the last World Cup, having only the year before won the under 21s European Championship. Not only were they ready, they were arguably Germany’s four best players during the tournament. The pressure does not effect them, playing for the senior side is exactly like playing for the under 21s and the under 15s, they are ruthlessly taught the ruthlessness of the German way of playing.
Jaochim Low has Germany well drilled and prepared, and with this years additions of the exceedingly talented Mario Gotze, André Schürrle, Marco Reus and the formidable partnership of Badstuber and Hummels at the back, Germany are looking potent once again finishing with nine points out of a possible nine in the group named the ‘Group of Death’, and who would have thought otherwise? So what does this mean for their chances in the latter stages? Well, if I were a betting man, I would suggest that winning it is certainly not out of reach and perhaps they have more chance of winning it than losing it, based on their history. History ,of course, does not prove anything in the football present, yet with Germany we can make an exception to that rule, the exception being: that Germany, come what may, will be exceptional.