Germany’s World Cup win was set in motion for years before they lifted the trophy. The trophy was the ultimate prize for forward thinking and ‘Vorsprung durch Vorbereitung’. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
Long before the World Cup even started, Germany had started to prepare for the tournament. A group of students were compiling databases on their opponents to make sure that they have every single bit of information at their disposal. In the years before that, the Bundesliga had started to build and blossom. At this year’s tournament, 15 players of the 22-man squad came from the German domestic league. With the foundations set in place years before, Germany now just had to build the palace, almost literally.
In the lead-up to the tournament, they built their own training facility. In Santo Andre, a purpose-built facility allowed the players to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city traffic and gain every conceivable sporting advantage throughout the tournament. How much the seclusion did or didn’t work for them will be debated, but they are World Champions.
Germany had been the most complete team throughout the entire tournament and while it took until deep into extra time for them to seal their fate on Sunday night, it came in the perfect fashion.
Mario Gotze’s volley and thunder strike into the back of the net in the 112th minute was much-needed, and while Joachim Low was looking stoic and frozen as ever, some of the German subs ran all the way to the other end of the pitch to where André Schürrle had set the move in motion to celebrate.
The demolition job on Brazil had set a certain expectation that they would never have been able to live up to. Not against a team like Argentina. Germany struggled for their free-flowing fluency for much of the match and while it was captivating, it often felt like like chewing cotton wool.
For both sides, it was brutal work with Lionel Messi throwing up on the pitch at various stages in the match. Fouls were harsh and Christoph Kramer was knocked out but allowed to play on, once again raising questions on how Fifa handle concussions. When eventually taken off the pitch, Kramer looked dazed and lost, like a player who should not have been on the pitch in the first place. But the game moved on, like wading through drying sludge. Finals are not supposed to be end-to-end, but Argentina were practically at their wits end. They failed to manage a shot on target for the entire 90 minutes of regulation time and ended with just two on target in total.
Germany weren’t much better, with just seven in total. It might not have been a showstopper, but it was an incredible showing of digging deep for the overall team cause. They had to do so with a late injury to Sami Khedira, who was ruled out just before the start of the game. Not too long after that call, his replacement, Kramer, was knocked out and also replaced. Yet, despite the struggles, they came out trumps.
It started with a 4-0 win over Portugal and a 2-2 draw against Ghana, perhaps the only blip on an illustrious campaign. They beat two of the South American powerhouses on their way to the top, battled a bout of flu and became the first European side to win a World Cup in South America. It will go down as one of the most incredible World Cup campaigns with Germany’s Golden Generation not only making history, but setting a platform for the future. With a solid domestic league where clubs are mostly still owned by fans, they have created a blueprint not only for future generations of German teams, but also one other teams can learn from. When you do away with ego and when money isn’t the sole purpose for the existence of sporting leagues, great things will happen.
On the darker side of the moon, Argentina’s failure will turn the spotlight straight back onto Lionel Messi. The Little Master who is so magical, but hardly celebrated in his own country. He was handed the golden ball, but that’s hardly going to change the perception of him in his homeland. He is not quite loathed, but he is certainly not loved; he simply lingers. The myth of the freakish talent who left the country and went on to do great things, just not great enough for the people of his homeland to accept. But Messi can only do so much. Argentina, although a good team, are hardly the Barcelona team he has so flourished in. Messi has been the pattern stitcher with Argentina and although he tried, the stiches continued to unravel on Sunday, as did Messi’s already ambivalent legacy in his country.
The contrasts between the two teams were stark and the way their legacies will be celebrated couldn’t be more different. A simple reminder, if anyone ever needed it, that sport can be wonderfully enchanting and brutally cruel all at the same time. DM
Photo: German players celebrate with the World Cup trophy after winning the FIFA World Cup 2014 final between Germany and Argentina at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 13 July 2014.
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