Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Cacau and Thomas Muller. Four goals. A comprehensive win. This is the World Cup. This is Germany. Why did we all think it would be different?
Calm in possession, fiery in the tackle, good movement between the lines and technically sound, the German crop of 2010 is hardly any different to any other German side presented in the last 14 years.
Without an abundance of star players, in fact this time it is questionable if they even have the one, and with a relatively low key coach everybody had a reason to think Germany would not impress this time. Only last time, but for slightly different reasons, people thought exactly the same. The time before, in 2002, too. Germany have entered almost every tournament in the past 14 years, since 1996, as outsiders, dismissed as a team not quite good enough. Perhaps it is true, the team has never since been ‘quite good enough’. Runners up in the 2002 World Cup final, runners up in Euro 2008, third place in the 2006 World Cup final. But, this begs the questions, if this is what happens when Germany are not good enough what chance does the rest of the world have when Germany actually field a good team?
Other teams, which most football fans in the world would agree have better line ups, at least on paper, have dismal records in comparison. They do not possess what Germany do. Of course by other teams I am inferring England, Argentina, Holland. In recent history they demonstrate they can play well enough in periods, even genuinely enthral for moments, but when it matters, when it truly sincerely matters, something is missing. Continually. The German national teams ability to raise its game and play ‘beyond its expected level’ is such a perpetual occurrence that it should not be dismissed. It might be lazy to say the German players are stronger mentally and some might even say such a notion is impossible to confirm. It probably is. Intangibles like mental strength are not easily measured. But still, the question remains, why and how does it keep happening? The team is diverse, of the goalscorers against Australia two were born in Poland and one in Brazil. The German spirit still remains. Perhaps it is transferred, perhaps it is merely a self fulfilling prophecy. Whatever ‘it’ is, ‘it’ is there.