World Cup 2010: Pity the Fool Who Underestimated Germany, The Unknown Giant
At the beginning of the tournament, the Germans were dubbed as doomed because their captain and midfield general, Michael Ballack, had been injured just before the final preparations for the South African tour.
The international media then tagged the German squad as "too young, too inexperienced." The message was: The Germans would have a hard task ahead of them.
Surprise was probably the word when Germany dispatched Australia with a resounding 4-0 victory.
Then came the defeat to Serbia in a boring game that lacked any great play from both sides; and in the last match, the Germans won thanks to a fantastic shot by Mesut Oezil, the team's star, according to many experts.
Not long ago, the Germans humiliated England in what was a controversial match, but passing four shots through a defense composed by Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Matthew Upson, and John Terry is not that much of an easy task.
Especially when your midfield has Gerrard and Lampard commanding the movements.
Still, why do many people see Germany as an outsider? Because, "people" do not have a clue about German football.
Germany is probably The Unknown Giant in world football.
Germany has been, throughout the years, the country that has the most football players. More than six million Germans are represented in the German FA, the DFB (Deutscher Fussbalbund).
Also, the German Bundesliga is the League with the biggest attendance in the world: Thirteen million spectators distributed through 306 games.
Just for you to get an idea, there are nine German clubs among the top 20. Four of them are in the top 10, with Borussia Dortmund leading the overall table.
"Die Mannschaft" has reached the semifinals 11 times in 16 World Cups, which is one more than Brazil (who has disputed two more tournaments by the way).
The Germans reached the final game in seven different occasions, and they won it three times.
Surprising when you consider that the Germans aren't exactly a source of superstars.
There are no German players among the biggest sales in the transfer market. According to the expert site transfermarkt.de, there are only five German players among the 100 most valuable players.
Still, how is it possible that the Germans have so much success? There are two clear motives.
Firstly, the Bundesliga is completely under the radar. On the one hand, the Germans have never developed the media machine, like the English, and the sympathy for the Germans is very low, especially when compared to the Italian and Spanish charms.
Secondly, the Germans have developed a way to play their game, in which they do not depend on one or two individuals, but on the whole team.
The German tactic does not depend on one individual's inspiration; it depends on the ability for a player to fulfill a role that will serve the flow of the game.
Much like the Dutch Total Football, the German playbook depends on what they call "Teamgeist", which is German for "team spirit".
That is why many underestimate the Germans, because they do not have a Ronaldo, a Messi, a Robinho or a David Villa, that will turn the tide in an instant.
The "Mannschaft's" drama is that if the player does not fulfill its role, then the team will not perform. Just like a machine where a piece is missing.
Still, when one players excels, you will not hear of him that much. For instance, did you know that Miroslav Klose has scored as many goals in a World Cup as Ronaldo?
Or that Oliver Kahn was the first goalkeeper to be named player of the tournament in a World Cup, even though he played on the team that lost the final?
Probably most of you did not know it, because the Germans are always underrated.
Phillip Lahm is among the top three right backs in the world, and Manuel Neuer is one of the great goalies from the next generation. Per Mertesacker is a great defender with a huge frame (1,98m tall), and Sami Khedira is very comfortable when managing the midfield.
Schweinsteiger is improving every year, since he made his first debut at Bayern Munich, and Lukas Podolski seems to be brimming in confidence, especially since he left Bayern Munich for his former club 1. FC Koeln.
Thomas Mueller is still riding his wave of momentum, that started with his great performances for the German champions Bayern Munich, and Miroslav Klose is a reliable striker.
And lets not forget Mesut Oezil, who is quickly turning into the centre of attention of "Die Mannschaft".
On top of that, the German players have a lot of chemistry, which contributes for their tactics to work very well.
The Argentines already know, that they cannot underestimate a German side, which is packed with talent and will to overcome any opponent.
Germany is probably showing us the most complete showing of team spirit and team play in this World Cup.
They may not have the biggest names, but the white jersey is a stamp of quality and, trust me, the Argentina-Germany clash will be the best in this World Cup.
It's the precision of a well-oiled machine against a furious and passionate side. A game worthy of a World Cup final.
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