André Schürrle, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Brazil, CONCACAF, Deutscher Fußball-Bund, DFB, die Mannschaft, Führungsfigur, Führungsspieler, FIFA, football, Germany, Joachim Löw, leitwolf, Manuel Neuer, Mario Götze, Miroslav Klose, Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos, UEFA, Weltmeister, world champion, World Cup 2014, World Cup Diaries
Germany are the world champions! Twenty-four years after their last triumph, the Germans have won football’s highest accolade yet again. Die Mannschaft earned a fourth star on their jersey by defeating Argentina 1:0 in the finals at the Mecca of football, the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
Rarely has anyone deserved to win so richly. It might be counter-intuitive but not always does the last team standing win the hearts and minds of everyone. England’s second goal in 1966 come to mind, as does the assistance “God” extended Argentina in 1986. More recently, the ugly spat between Marco Materazzi and Zinedine Zidane in 2006 also cast a shadow upon Italy’s eventual triumph.
In contrast, even to their own days of ‘robust football,’ the German team was perceived as being too nice to win. There were no leitwolf or Führungsfigur in Joachim Löw’s team. In the entire tournament, Germany collected just six yellow cards, whereas Argentina received 8, the Netherlands 11, and Brazil given the most of any team in the World Cup – 14.
Even in their record 7:1 demolition of the hosts in the semifinals, Philipp Lahm & Co. decided to go easy on the Brazilians in the second half. After the final whistle, Bastian Schweinsteiger and other German players were seen hugging and consoling their defeated foes rather than jubilantly celebrating their astounding victory in arguably their most difficult fixture of the tournament.
An admirable quality in the Germans is their humility and decorum. No German team has ever fielded a prima donna like Cristiano Ronaldo, Robson de Souza, Mario Balotelli, or Nicolas Anelka, nor has one ever had the same swagger as the Selecao. After winning the championship, audiences were spared the theatrics of a German Gennaro Gattuso running around the pitch in his underwear. Most players instead preferred spending a few quiet minutes in the embrace of their wives or girlfriends before the lifting of the Cup and the obligatory victory lap and photo session.
Luckily for football fans, this world-beating German team did not enjoy an easy draw. A Germany that arrived at the finals to play and defeat Argentina after strolling through lesser teams would not be as inspiring as what was accomplished in this World Cup. From the group stage to the Cup, the Germans eliminated Portugal, France, Brazil, and Argentina. The only other side that could have arguably posed a challenge to the champions was the Netherlands though it is unlikely that anyone would bet on a Dutch victory over the Germans.
It has been often said that the Germans may lack star players but play as a team. In Brasil 2014, Germany outscored, out-passed, and out-teamed all the other 32 teams that had gathered there. The Mannschaft scored 18 goals, completed 4,157 passes, and had the most number of goal scorers and assists than any other side except the Netherlands; no less than eight members of the German team put the ball in their opponents’ net over the space of seven matches.
While the world was focused on rivalries between Lionel Messi and Thomas Müller, the goal that won the championship came from substitute Mario Götze. Yet even throughout the tournament, Löw’s boys were generous in their passes and assists to allow the person with the highest likelihood to score to shoot on goal. Neither Miroslav Klose, who broke the world record for the most goals in World Cups (16), nor Müller, who was just one goal shy of yet another Golden Boot award, hogged the ball to themselves and instead played for their team to win.
Brasil 2014 tied for the highest goal-scoring World Cup with 171 goals scored in total; only in France 1998 were so many goals scored. Ironically, despite Brazilian player Neymar’s back injury being one of the most iconic moments of this tournament, the World Cup saw the least number of yellow and red cards ever given (187, 10) since the practice was started in 1970. UEFA (Union of European Football Association) has now won two World Cups more than CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football), the last three in a trot. Germany lifted FIFA’s trophy for the first time as a united country; Germany also became the first European team to win a World Cup in South America and surpassed Brazil’s tally to become the highest goal scorer (224) in World Cup history. It was the country’s eight final, a record in itself.
What may be frightening to a Europe busy preparing for the Euro 2016 in France is that the world champions were probably not even at their best. There have been a few injuries and the defence has looked shaky at times, something the coaches will be working hard to remedy. For now, Lahm & Co. go home with $35 million in prize money from FIFA and a fourth World Cup, ensuring that they will be long remembered in the annals of German football; the Deutscher Fußball-Bund has also sweetened the German victory by promising its conquering heroes a bonus of $408,000 each.
Despite worries about delayed construction and protests, the South American giants have hosted a remarkable World Cup. Germany, the eventual champion, has not just won the trophy but done it with a dignity, grace, and sportsmanship that has unfortunately become rarer; this is all the more reason for their victory to be savoured. in Brasil 2014, Löw’s team set an example for how professional football ought to be played. Congratulations Germany, champions and gentlemen!