World Cup 2014: Germany could rule the world for years to come

World Cup-winning squad members are of a decent age and there is plenty more talent ready and able to step up

The aftermath of a World Cup final in the area of the stadium in which journalists and players can mix – albeit separated by a barrier, to remind us of our place in the Fifa order – is always an intriguing environment. One squad of players walks in as just your average superstar internationals, and walks out hours later having written their names into history.

In 2002, in Yokohama, the Brazil team emerged en masse singing, dancing, playing drums and tambourines with the trophy carried before them. The Italians came out in 2006 like men released from jail, after the Calciopoli scandal of the previous months had dragged the reputation of their game into the muck. The Spanish in 2010 emerged to share the moment with their media, with whom they have a close relationship, like glowing children greeting their parents at sports day.

On Sunday, the Germany team, as is their way, walked out as if adding the fourth star to their shirt was the most perfectly normal thing in the world. Some of them had made an exception to their usual standards of excellence by drinking the official sponsors’ beer, laid on for them in the dressing room. Per Mertesacker tried to get a song going but he was so out of tune that it was difficult for any of his team-mates to follow.

Germany as Weltmeister? It fits. Third place in 2006 and 2010, the Euro 2008 beaten finalists and semi-finalists at Euro 2012, one can hardly say it had not been coming. “We started this project 10 years ago,” said coach Joachim Löw. The only question that remains is how much longer the great German 21st-century generation can continue to dominate the game. In football we have come to believe that all success comes in cycles and that even the best must eventually cede the throne, or, like Spain at this World Cup, have it seized from them.

 

But Germany have refined a system that is consistently producing players of the top level. In this tournament alone they were denied Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan and Lars Bender through injury. Julian Draxler, the highly prized Schalke midfielder, played just 14 minutes. Even Mario Götze, the substitute who scored the match-winning goal in the final, was lightly used.

Last season at Bayern Munich, Pep Guardiola challenged Götze to try to attain the levels that Lionel Messi has reached. It will be intriguing to see how Götze develops in his second season at Bayern. His winning goal is one further step towards being the level of player which Germany believe he can be.

Aside from the 36-year-old Miroslav Klose, now surely set to call time on his glorious international career, the oldest outfield player in the squad is Philipp Lahm, at 30. Bastian Schweinsteiger will be 33 come the next World Cup finals; Manuel Neuer will be 32; Mats Hummels, 29; Thomas Müller, 28; Götze, 26. They will all be more than capable of defending their title – the question will be who the Germans have developed by then to challenge the older guard.

“You never know what happens in the future,” Schweinsteiger said. “But we are fit, we are hungry and we have some good players who are around 25 years of age. It will give us hunger. The important thing is that the young guys have the experience of this tournament. Experience is very important in football.

Get Adobe Flash player

“We have some players who have a big future and I think the Spain team and the Brazilian team changed a little bit. We believe we are now the No 1 team in the world. We have to enjoy this moment and not talk about the future too much.

“The most important thing is that we have quality, we have quality players, and that we have the tradition in our game. We have the mentality of the Germans. We can run, we can make pressure, we can defend and the mix between this is the solution. We have a young team. But we have some players like Philipp Lahm, Mesut Özil and Per Mertesacker who have the experience. This mix makes a big difference.”

Mats Hummels was part of Germany’s successful Under-21 team Mats Hummels was part of Germany’s successful Under-21 team (AP)

Naturally, all paths lead back to that Germany Under-21s team that beat England 4-0 in the European Championship final in Malmo five years ago. Had Sami Khedira been fit to start Sunday’s final, six players from that Under-21s team – Neuer, Benedikt Höwedes, Jérôme Boateng, Khedira, Özil and Hummels – would have started the game against Argentina. An astonishing return by any reckoning.

Asked whether this was Germany’s best generation, Hummels dodged the question, although he did acknowledge the achievements of that Under-21s team. “I was only born in 1988. I only saw 20 years of German football. Maybe it’s the best generation of the ones I have seen, but I can’t say anything about 1974, 1982, 1986, 1990 because I didn’t see them.

“We knew that this was a special team in 2009. If you see the names, there are something like 10 players in the World Cup who played in that tournament. Six or seven of them are from Germany, the rest from other countries.” He added: “We’re very happy with what has happened, the whole tournament. Winning the World Cup is something special not just for your career but for your whole life.”

Indeed, it gets no bigger than this and the challenge now, having accomplished the mission laid out in the aftermath of Euro 2000, is to keep this golden generation hungry for more success. They will be received in Berlin as heroes, the first team from a unified Germany to win the World Cup. In 1990, months before reunification, their homecoming celebrations were in Frankfurt. They seem, on the whole, to be a humble, grounded bunch, but they now have a status that German footballers have not experienced for a generation.

Later this month, the Under-19s European Championship is staged in Hungary with Germany involved, as well as the defending champions Serbia although not England. The English are current European champions at Under-17 level, Spain at Under-21. If ever there was evidence of the importance of these junior tournaments it was there at the Maracana on Sunday night when six Under-21s team-mates carried out the World Cup trophy.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday

Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way

News

Florida mother launched a petition to ban the sale of the dolls

Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Extras
indybest
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?