Joachim Löw has warned that the great generation of German players who have propelled the national team to the World Cup final here tonight can go on to compete at the very top for years to come.
Speaking ahead of the game at the Maracana Stadium, the Germany coach said that even if his country were to lose to Argentina, they had the players coming through to maintain their superb record of having qualified for every semi-final, and two finals, in the four World Cups since 2002. The much-vaunted reorganisation of German football’s youth development after Euro 2000 had, he said, drawn on influences from all round the globe.
Asked whether the current generation had peaked with this final, Löw said: “Time will tell. We have players right now who are playing at their peak, but we have young players also in the squad and others who aren’t even here. Players with a fantastic future: [Ilkay] Gundogan, [Marco] Reus, [Mesut] Özil, [Andre] Schürrle, [Thomas] Müller. They can go on to play for a number of years. We can play on top of the world for a good few years yet, with some young players coming in to reinforce the team.
“But let’s concentrate on this game first,” added Löw. “I believe we, as a team, are mature. Over the last few months we’ve shown what we can do and how well we can play. In the last few years we have been marching forward. Even if we are defeated, which I don’t think will happen, nothing will crumble. This team, and German football, does have a future. I see no problems.”
Löw said it was the culmination of years of planning and research. “We’ve travelled and watched international football, in Europe and South America, and we’ve tried to learn little things that can influence matches. We’ve taken on the new innovations.”
Alejandro Sabella, Argentina’s coach, said his team needed “the perfect match” to beat Germany. “This is a match where you almost don’t need any motivating,” he said. “It’s self-motivational. It’s a final for the World Cup. You don’t need any great motivation for that. But there’s always something we can look for to bring us that additional thing to assist us.”
Instead of dwelling on the threat of Lionel Messi, Germany’s captain Bastian Schweinsteiger picked out Javier Mascherano’s performance in the semi-final against Holland. He said: “We have to keep our cool, stay calm and patient. Mascherano was the leader of a pack of wolves. I remember the last minute against Holland when he tackled [Arjen] Robben and stopped him scoring. That shows his attitude. It will certainly not be easy for us, but I’m quite convinced that, if we are able to play to our potential, we can beat even such a top-class team.’
Löw said the game, which will be refereed by Nicola Rizzoli of Italy, would be very different to his side’s 7-1 victory over Brazil in the semi-final. “If anyone thinks it will [be the same], they’ve not looked at Argentina,” he said. “They will try and keep possession and attack. It’s going to be two teams at exactly the same level facing each other.”