While England have been quick to find excuses and blame for a terrible World Cup campaign, Germany are flying through the rounds with back-to-back thrashings of two of the favourites. For a nation not fancied prior to the tournament, they have reached the semi finals for the 11th time in the last 15 tournaments.
An injury to captain Michael Ballack sparked doom for a German national team that wasn’t full of household names outside of its own country and whom had questions over who their strikers should be heading into the tournament.
So How Have Germany Got This Far?
A very well-disciplined unit coached by Joachim Low for 4 years now, Germany’s teamwork, ability and prowess in front of goal have all combined during their run to the final 4. It’s said you need a bit of luck to win the World Cup – they’ve had that too.
A master tactician and the key to Germany’s run at their home World Cup in 2006, reaching the semi finals under Jurgen Klinsmann, helped by his assistant. Joachim Low stepped up from number 2 after that tournament and successful guided Germany to the final of Euro 2008, beating Portugal as underdogs in the quarter final even with Low banned from the touchline.
This World Cup has upgraded Joachim Low’s reputation as a manager, not just for his fashion sense and dyed hair on the sideline. The West German born manager has out-coached all of his opponents so far, handing record World Cup defeats to both Australia and England along the way. His current setup of two holding midfielders in front of the defence have limited opposition to opportunities. Only Milan Jovanovic and Matthew Upson from a set piece have put the ball past Manuel Neuer so far. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira have played in that role and ventured forward when Germany have possession, adding great support to that attack on the break.
Germany have had a lot of success on the counter attack in this tournament. Whether it’s the holding midfielders coming forward or Philip Lahm supporting the attack from full back, Germany have such presence going forward. Lukas Podolski playing left forward has scored 2 goals, Thomas Muller has scored 4 from the right and Miroslav Klose has scored 4 goals in the middle. Muller, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger all have 3 assists. The have playmakers and goalscorers all over the park.
Pride, Determination, Discipline
The English team have been criticised for their lack of passion and determination in this tournament. The same cannot be said of the German players. They work for each other, they work for their country. As if winning the World Cup isn’t enough to motivate players, it’s as if German players are born with succeeding at the World Cup.
Germany have had a few strikes of luck so far. From Kwadwo Asamoah scuffing a one-on-one at 0-0 in their final group match with Ghana where defeat would have sent them home. Frank Lampard’s goal that was given when Germany lead England 2-1 in the second round. They’ve had a few fortunate breaks so far and perhaps there is more to follow in their final two games. After all, winners make their own luck, right?
Having played with this ball since December in the Bundesliga, the German national players have had months more practice with the new ball that continues to deceive goalkeepers and players continue to find problems crossing with. Over hit through balls continue to be a problem for most nations. Not for Germany. Even if Miroslav Klose has only scored one goal with his head so far, Germany are using the ball for a slight additional advantage that I believe still exits.
A young team that Joachim Low will be preparing to have a good shot at the European Championships in 2 years time, Germany are a great shout to win this year’s World Cup. My money is on them to beat Spain in the semi final with the current European Champions under performing at this World Cup. Thomas Muller’s suspension is a big blow for Germany, having been involved in the most goals in this this tournament so far (4 goals, 3 assists) and a great threat on the counter. However, Spain’s defence remains vulnerable and the likes of Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose will fancy their chances of adding to Germany’s tally of 13 goals in the competition so far.