German fans awoke to the realisation yesterday morning that the Nationalmannschaft's World Cup drought would now be at least 24 years without lifting the trophy but buoyed by the conviction that their young side will be one of the favourites to triumph in 2014.
The semi-final against Spain proved to be a step too far for Joachim Löw's team, who were unable to replicate the thrilling, counter-attacking game that had devastated England and Argentina in the previous rounds. Nevertheless, a side based around such young talents as Mesut Ozil and Thomas Müller, with an average squad age of 25.4 years, should be even stronger in four years' time and could be in line to win their first World Cup since 1990.
That was certainly the view of Oliver Bierhoff, Germany's general manager. "We hope this is the beginning, not the end, for this team," he said. "We have some very young players with a very big future and this will be an important experience for them as they go forward in their careers."
Germany certainly did not disgrace themselves during the 1-0 defeat in Durban and might even have taken the lead through Toni Kroos' far-post volley just before Carles Puyol's winner. However, they were forced back in the second half as an inexperienced midfield struggled to hold Spain. "We put England and Argentina out but Spain are better," Bierhoff added. "They were better on the pitch. They kept the ball. They deserved to win. We are a very young team and perhaps you could see a lack of experience. Some players were tired and we didn't have the precision in our passing."Reuse content