Germany 'major players for years to come'

MICHAEL LYNCH
Last updated 12:11 14/07/2014
 Mario Goetze
Reuters
YOUNG LOVE: Germany's Mario Goetze, aged 22, kisses the World Cup trophy.
World Cup final
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Germany: 2014 football World Cup champions.
World Cup final
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Germany fans party at the Maracana after their team won the World Cup.

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OPINION: That Germany deserved to win the World Cup - albeit narrowly, with a sensational extra-time winner - cannot really be gainsaid.

Joachim Loew's side was unbeaten, and won six of its seven games. The only blemish came in a thrilling group game, when it drew 2-2 with Ghana.

It got to the World Cup final without the necessity of penalties to decide a match, and it only required extra time once, in the round of 16 against Algeria, to progress.

And of course, it will forever be remembered not just for winning this tournament, dubbed by many to be the best World Cup ever, but for smashing seven past Brazil in the semifinal, quite the most extraordinary result in the history of the game.

In one fell swoop Germany displayed its credentials as worthy champions in that game, and also laid bare the paucity of this Brazilian side - in the process, perhaps for generations, destroying the image of invincibility that Brazil always took with them on to the pitch, home or away.

It was the first time since 1975 that Brazil had lost a competitive match at home, and the impact could be seen just days later when the Selecao collapsed once more, losing tamely to Netherlands by a 3-0 scoreline in the third-placed play-off.

Now Germany will be the team with the target on their back, the country that everyone wants to beat.

They will be expecting that, not just in the next World Cup in Russia four years hence, but at the next European Championships in France, in two years time.

But there is every reason to expect this German side to simply get better, which is a daunting thought for all those seeking to depose them.

Of the starting line up in the final only veteran striker Miroslav Klose (36) and captain Philipp Lahm (30) were not in their 20s.

Goalscorer Mario Goetze has just turned 22, Thomas Mueller is 24, Mesut Ozil is 26, Toni Kroos 24, Jerome Boateng 25, Andre Schurrle 24 and several of the bench players are even younger.

This is a German team that, if it stays injury free and focused on the job in hand, can be major players for years to come.

They have built on the legacy of previous tournaments and are reaping the rewards of a youth policy begun early in the century after a disappointing 2004 European Championships.

Jurgen Klinsmann, who coached Die Nationalmannschaft in the 2006 World Cup, which they hosted, opted for a change of style. Germany remained professional, concentrated and efficient, their hallmarks, but they also embraced flair and adventure and went for more technical players.

They also began to reap the rewards of the German immigration policy, a number of players who were the sons of ''new Germans'' coming through to the upper echelons of the game and making the national team.

They finished third in 2006, losing in a thrilling semifinal to Italy.

It was a similar story in 2010 in South Africa. Germany put four past England and four past a rather different Argentina en route to a semi final loss to Spain, the eventual winners, before taking third spot with a win over Uruguay in the play off.

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That team, coached by Loew (Klinsmann's assistant in 2006) introduced talents like Muller and Ozil, and they, and their colleagues, have blossomed into the unit that has triumphed in Brazil.

It is a testament to the development system in the country  and the strength of the Bundesliga. Nine of the team that started against Argentina play in their domestic competition.

It is also a tribute to Low, who has been part of the national programme for a decade and has guided, selected, nurtured and developed these young players to the point where they are now world champions. Deservedly so.

Deutschland Uber Alles - at least for now. But the football world moves so quickly nothing can be taken for granted. And the Germans, least of all anyone, know that.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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