Redemption: Germany validates self as football power

Rick Olivares - The Philippine Star

Occasionally, they get the script right.

That the best team wins the World Cup.

In 2006, Germany played Italy in the semifinals at Stadion Dortmund. Then Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s men were clearly the better side, but stout Italian defending held the match scoreless… until Andrea Pirlo picked out Fabio Grosso unmarked on the right side of the box. Grosso fired to the far post past Jens Lehmann who earlier turned back a power shot by Pirlo. That was on the 119th minute with a minute to go before penalty kicks where the Germans were imperious.

Two minutes later, in stoppage time, Alessandro Del Piero knocked in a second goal to seal the win and the Azzurri were on to the World Cup Finals against France.

Four years later, also at the same stage of the World Cup this time in South Africa, Germany played Spain. For some reason, they adopted a more defensive stance rather than the attacking style they played all throughout. Perhaps Joachim Low had seen Spain pick opponents apart with their tiki taka and so he opted to hit on the counter. La Furia Roja was clearly the better team and in the 73rd minute, Carles Puyol headed in a corner kick by Xavi to stun the Germans in the 73rd minute.

Germany knows heartache and heartbreak. And if you really are a masochist, you could even go as far at the 1999 UEFA Champions League Finals where Bayern Munich represented Germany against England’s Manchester United.

Bayern scored first before the Red Devils scored two goals in the final minutes of stoppage time to take the trophy.

Today, with a chance to ease all that failure, Germany came through after Mario Gotze, introduced as a late substitute by Joachim Low, volleyed from the left past keeper Sergio Romero for the match’s only goal that propelled Die Nationalmannschaft to its fourth World Cup title.

Gotze rode the bench after a series of poor play was redeemed. And he will be a national hero for his efforts.

Up to the finals, Low’s squad had the fewest yellow cards – three overall despite having played six matches. They picked up three in the finals to hike it to six.

In the runner-up to match day against Argentina, the team revealed that they were instructed to try and not embarrass Brazil any further after posting a 5-nil lead at the half. The Germans pulled back but scored two more to prevent the hosts from gaining any confidence. They celebrated post-match, but spoke of tempering any celebrations because there was one more to go – the finals against Argentina. That belied a team with unerring focus and it served them well.

The sent the home team packing in one of the most lopsided matches in World Cup history then knocked out the last undefeated team in the tournament. Prior to the Finals, Argentina was 6-0-0 while Germany was 5-1-0.

They didn’t commit the mistake of the Dutch, who in their semifinals against Argentina played conservatively from the start. The Germans were aggressive on the ball and forced La Albiceleste to sit back and this time take their chances on the counter and pounce on any mistakes.

This must have been the supreme irony for Argentina’s Lionel Messi who as a part of Barcelona has repeatedly with their sleight of feet and ability to find holes in even the stingiest of defenses. Germany controlled 60 percent of the possession! While it doesn’t follow that more possession will mean a win, history will record the following trends that stayed true up to the end.

The top scoring team won

In their World Cup Finals history Argentina and Germany, the team that scored more goals won out in the end.


Total GF vs. GA 1986

Total GF vs. GA 1990

Total GF vs. GA 2014


14-5 = +9

5-4 = +1

8-4 = +4


8-7 = +1

15-5 = +10

18-4 = +14

Can one man really lift a team to glory?


Goal scorers 2 or more goals


Goal scorers 2 or more goals


Goal scorers 2 or more goals



Maradona, Valdano, Burruchaga







Matthaus, Brehme, Klinsmann, Voller

Muller, Schurrle, Gotze, Hummels, Klose, Kroos

More domestic players = better chemistry













This is just a theory that I have about players plying their trade domestically having better chemistry during competitions. Despite Argentina having 15 players --- seven less than West Germany – in the World Cup, that meant the core still played at home.

Let’s break that down further:


Sets of Domestic Teammates


Sets of Domestic Teammates


Sets of Domestic Teammates



3 River Plate

3 Boca Juniors

3 Independiente

2 Argentinos Juniors

2 River Plate

2 Independiente


2 Boca Juniors



4 Bayern Munich

3 Koln

2 Stuttgart

2 Hamburg

5 Bayern Munich

4 Koln

2 Borussia Dortmund

2 Werder Bremen


7 Bayern Munich

4 Borussia Dortmund

2 Schalke


If you look at Germany’s starting XI of the 2014 World Cup Finals, here are the sets of teammates:

Bayern Munich: Manuel Neuer, Philip Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos

Argentina: None of the Boca Juniors players started: backup keeper Agustin Orion and midfielder Fernando Gago.

Correlating this to the 2010 World Cup champions Spain, here is the breakdown of the 19 players who suit up in La Liga:

7 Barcelona

5 Real Madrid

4 Valencia

The Dutch side they played had only 3 Ajax and 2 PSV Eindhoven players.

The 2006 Finals protagonists saw the entire 22-man Italian team playing in the Serie A.

5 MIlan

5 Juventus

4 Palermo

3 Roma

2 Lazio

In comparison, the French side they faced featured 11 playing in the Ligue 1.

5 Lyon

2 Marseille

So maybe chemistry and familiarity helps especially after a long football season.

What does this all mean?

It’s validation for the German program and the success, strength and quality of the Bundesliga.

Furthermore, it’s redemption for a team that had to undergo painful defeats before breaking through. And what a break through as Miroslav Klose broke Brazilian Ronaldo’s World Cup scoring record, with 16 goals to the 2002 World Cup winner’s 15.

Germany must be worthy winners to end Brazil’s uncanny unbeaten home stand that dated back to 1975.

And in the finals, they scored against an Argentinean team that never conceded in extra time making them the first European team to win on South American soil.

Sometimes, the script turns out be just right.








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