Many critics believed at the start of the 2o14 World Cup that Spain would continue its bid for trophies after winning the past two UEFA European Championships and the 2010 World Cup. A number of others thought that Germany could compete with and even potentially beat out the Spaniards for this year’s World Cup.
I believed that Germany could win its first national trophy since the 1990 World Cup. While Spain could not escape the group stage, falling to the Netherlands and Chile in turn, Germany finally broke out of the slump of second and third place finishes at the past three World Cups to reclaim the title of World Champions, defeating Argentina 1-0 yesterday in extra time.
The German team had some concerns heading into this tournament. Its use of four center backs as the entire defensive line, coupled with an injury to attacking midfielder/winger Marco Reus before the tournament’s start, led some to believe the team was weakened on both ends of the pitch. But Germany won through the use of its team’s powerful offensive capabilities throughout the tournament, scoring a total of 18 goals while only allowing four goals in seven games. This comes as no surprise, considering the team scored 36 goals in 10 games while surrendering 10 in international play to qualify for the tournament.
Germany won due to the strategic mind of its head coach, Joachim Löw. His strategy throughout the tournament was occasionally deemed questionable — including such tactical decisions as placing four central defenders on one defensive line and having captain defender Phillipp Lahm playing central midfielder — but none can question his methods now as he lifts the trophy. He made great substitutions and switched players around throughout the duration of the tournament, which ultimately contributed to the Germans’ victory.
Germany also made a statement to host country Brazil by proving its own status as one of the elite soccer powers of the world.
Germany won its fourth World Cup title, only one victory shy of Brazil’s five. During this tournament German striker Miroslav Klose broke the Brazilian Ronaldo’s record of most goals scored in a World Cup with 16. Germany also crushed Brazil’s hope of making it to the final by winning 7-1 on Brazilian soil. The Germans swiftly eliminated all hope of Brazil advancing by scoring five goals in an 18 minute stretch — four of them scored in seven minutes’ span. The last time a team scored five goals in a half during the World Cup was in 1974, in a match between Poland and Honduras. For a team like Germany to do this to another national power in a semifinal is almost unheard of.
The only thing missing from Germany’s World Cup run was the Golden Boot, given to the player who scored the most goals at the tournament. German midfielder Thomas Müller, who won the Golden Boot at the previous World Cup, was one goal away from tying Colombia’s James Rodriguez, who scored six goals in the tournament and took the award.
The skeptics and the critics can, and likely will, leave Germany alone after its run in this tournament. The Germans pushed their way straight through the group of death. They played in a controlling fashion through knockout rounds into the semifinals, where they crushed Brazil’s hopes. They defeated Lionel Messi and Argentina in the final, becoming the first European team to win the Cup in a South American country. Now, they can breathe a sigh of relief and knock back a few of the world’s best beers to celebrate their championship. All in all, this was a perfect way for Germany to reclaim soccer glory.
Matt Grus, hockey expert of Three for Ten Sports, is a contributing writer.