Editorial: A thrilling finale to World Cup in Brazil
Germany’s success had its foundation in failure
Germany football coach Joachim Löw talks to German chancellor Angela Merkel and president Joachim Gauck after the World Cup final victory over Argentina in Rio. Photograph: Guido Bergmann/Reuters/via Bundesregierung
If the World Cup was assessed by a grading system, the 2014 finals in Brazil would be assured of an A plus. Over the last month the sporting world and beyond has witnessed one of the most absorbing and thrilling tournaments in its rich history. It was fitting therefore that Sunday’s final was decided by an exquisite goal by a German team that exemplified all the best qualities of football at its highest level.
A marriage of technical excellence, outstanding individuals and a one-for-all team mindset gave Joachim Löw’s squad that tiny, almost imperceptible, advantage over Argentina. And that was enough in the end to capture the World Cup for the fourth time and become the first European team to win the trophy in Latin America. Acknowledged across the world as worthy champions, the German model for success will have football associations and coaches everywhere looking at its blueprint.
The first thing they will find is that it had its foundation in failure. Eliminated at the group stage of the 2004 European championships, a thorough overhaul of its coaching systems was undertaken by the German football association along with a long-term plan to build a national team that would have at its core a group of players who could develop together from a young age.
That commitment to change and adapt, backed by an annual investment of €60 million, yielded a team that won the European under 21 championship five years ago. Six of that 2009 team featured in Sunday’s triumph in Rio de Janeiro, a complete endorsement for that investment in youth and planning. When the German squad arrives back in Germany today to a massive welcome by hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens they will be well aware that the headstart they have on the rest of football may be shortlived.
But few would doubt that they are already planning for a new generation of great players to fill the boots of a team that has earned everyone’s admiration in a World Cup that exceeded expectations.