Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 preview: It is time for Germany's golden generation to turn promise into prizes

It's time to deliver for the likes of Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger

This German generation faces its third semi-final on Tuesday night, a moment to finally realise years of promise.

LIVE: The latest from Brazil vs Germany

Joachim Löw’s team have been in long-term development. They reached the last four of World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 but were beaten both times. What they had gained in style and pace they had lost in nous and nerve, missing the experience of players like Jens Lehmann and Michael Ballack, who took them all the way to the final of Euro 2008.

Read more: Brazil vs Germany match preview
It’s all falling into place for ruthless Germans
Is versatile Lahm the solution to Germany frailties?

In Belo Horizonte, against Brazil, Germany have the chance to take the step they missed the last two times. This is the moment for the spine of the side – Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger – to assert themselves as experienced, serious, decisive winners. The new generation of young attackers – Toni Kroos, Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller – must deliver on what has been, at senior international level, merely promise.


Löw knows that this match – and the final on Sunday it could take them to – has been years in the preparation. His team have been good for some time, but now need to win.

“We’ve been in at least the semi-finals of the last four World Cups and that just shows that we’ve been playing consistently at the very highest level,” Löw said this week, promising that this time his team would not fall at the penultimate hurdle. “One thing’s for sure – we desperately want to play in the Maracana in Rio again, on 13 July. We’re not done yet.”

This Germany team do seem to possess a focus they might have lacked in their past two tournaments. In South Africa in 2010, they thrilled the world with scientific dissections of England and Argentina, cutting them open on the break. Then it was a semi-final against Spain in Durban, where they were picked off by a far more experienced side.

Video: Sam Wallace previews Brazil vs Germany
Read more: Fifa to blame for thuggery which cost Neymar
Argentina fans mock Neymar
Without Neymar Brazil need a miracle

Two years ago, Germany started almost as well, but the first time they came up against a serious opponent – Italy in the semi-final – they crumbled and lost 2-1.

The big question, then, all tournament, has been whether this Germany side have learnt from that, or whether they will wilt again under the pressure of such a meaningful match. Those looking for negative evidence could point to the Ghana game, an end-to-end classic which ended 2-2, or to their last-16 extra-time defeat of Algeria, a 2-1 win in which they were dragged all the way and hardly convincing.

Mesut Ozil Mesut Ozil  

The evidence of Friday afternoon, though, suggests otherwise. In the difficult heat of the Maracana, facing a France team that had been one of the most exciting attacking forces of the tournament, Germany produced a performance of controlled efficiency and economy of effort, which some thought they were no longer capable of.

It is too easy, sometimes, to attribute technical issues to psychological causes. Löw made changes in tactics and personnel for the France game and those frailties evident against Ghana and Algeria disappeared, Germany instead showing the nous and strength many had been waiting to return to the team.

Löw had been playing a  4-3-3, with Lahm sitting in front of an exposed back four, who were themselves at risk given Per Mertesacker’s lack of pace on the turn. So, for the France match, Löw switched back to 4-2-3-1, the system he had used in the last two tournaments. Lahm returned to right-back, allowing Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira to  sit in front of the back four, protecting the centre-backs from France’s midfield runners. Mertesacker dropped to the bench, Mats Hummels returned and looked far more comfortable alongside Jerome Boateng at centre-half.

Toni Kroos in action during the 1-0 win over France Toni Kroos in action during the 1-0 win over France  

France, who had put five past Switzerland in the group stage, struggled to create anything much of note. Germany went ahead from a set piece – Hummels heading in Kroos’s perfect free-kick – and the midfield trio of Khedira, Schweinsteiger and Kroos strangled the game as Germany put in their most assured performance yet.

They will have to put up with emotion, noise and force beyond anything they have faced before. But once that surge is over, there is strikingly little to worry about in this Brazil team who will be without Neymar and Thiago Silva, their two best players. The hosts are nervous, as they showed in the second half against Colombia, and struggle to control games even when they are ahead. Schweinsteiger and Khedira will not be kicked off the ball, while Müller and Özil should be able to work through the gaps in the defence.

This Germany team may never have a better chance to reach a World Cup final. They have the skill and the resources to expose this Brazil side. They just need to show that they have the nous.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference