Time for Germany to settle a score, regardless of the margin

To be regarded among the greats, Germany must get past Argentina in World Cup final.

Germany coach Joachim Loew, left, will be aiming to lift the World Cup trophy on Sunday. EPA
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The final step is the biggest.

Germany took a giant leap towards greatness and glory when demolishing Brazil 7-1 in what could be an era-defining result.

It may be seen simply as another of the outstanding victories the serial nearly men have recorded. Sunday night will tell.

So their eventual standing rests on this, on the 90, or the 120 minutes against Argentina, or even the penalties, that traditional German strength.

There is something untypical about an 18-year trophy drought.

Germany spent the first half of that time lamenting their lack of talent and the second half revelling in the emergence of an able group.

They have reached five successive semi-finals and the finals of both Euro 2008 and the 2014 World Cup without ever emulating the six champion German teams, split equally between global and European competitions, who established a national reputation for winning, usually with the efficiency of cliche.

Germany's route to the final, click here

This group have endeared with their aesthetic appeal.

They have constructed magnificent matches: the four-goal demolitions of England and Argentina in 2010, the Euro 2012 rout of Greece when they should have scored at least seven.

Then the day they did; Tuesday’s result that reverberated around the world, Brazil’s lowest low.

They have the memories, but not the medals.

Perhaps tonight’s final boils down to the outstanding player of his generation, Lionel Messi, against the best international team of its age, each looking to cement a status with an achievement that would echo through the ages.

Their chosen place in history requires a coronation.

Germany’s golden generation, like most given that unfortunate tag, have seen too little of the most precious metal.

The national team’s near misses have been mirrored by Bayern Munich, who have supplied seven members of the squad, six of whom are likely to start tonight.

They were beaten finalists in the 2010 and 2012 Champions Leagues and semi-finalists in 2014 but have a solitary triumph, in 2013, to show for their consistency.

It is why, when modern teams are ranked, they tend to be placed below Barcelona, winners three times in six seasons – pre-eminence is proved on the highest stages.

They are comparable – Barcelona and Bayern, Spain and Germany – as all are technically proficient sides, built around a passing ethos.

Germany have the ball less and score more than Spain; it is possession and productivity.

Spain made a statement by beating Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final but a team sometimes described as the finest of all time were never as devastating as Germany were in the six-minute, four-goal devastation of the Brazilians.

But for Spain, Germany would have won Euro 2008 and might have lifted the World Cup two years later. Germany may be their natural successors, welding considerable ability with national characteristics – if Xavi and Iniesta were quintessentially Spanish, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm are archetypally German – into a potent blend.

Spain specialised in distribution and their undoing came through the passing of time. Germany’s time should be now.

Apart from the three centurions – the veteran Miroslav Klose plus Schweinsteiger and Lahm, each at his peak – Joachim Loew is likely to select six members of the side that won the European Under 21 championship in 2009.

They will be augmented by Thomas Muller, who could not get in that side, and Toni Kroos, who is younger still.

It is tempting to wonder how they would fare against the last German World Cup winners.

The team of 1990 prevailed in a bad-tempered, forgettable final against Argentina, which is a reason why other champions are remembered more fondly.

That West Germany team demolished a very capable Yugoslavia 4-1, a result that has faded into the mists of time, while the iron will and sheer substance of Lothar Matthaus, Andreas Brehme and co has lingered longer in the mind.

Loew’s stylists have brought more excitement but, to join the German elite, they have to follow up a sizeable scoreline with a seismic stride and beat Argentina.


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