Carles Puyol's blistering header dashed Germany's World Cup dreams on Wednesday, as Spain took a 1-0 lead in the 73rd minute and never looked back, dispatching Germany and advancing to their first World Cup final.
Germany made their living in the 2010 World Cup on the attack—they were not your father's German team. They went forward with flair, created opportunities on the counter attack, and overwhelmed their opponents by manufacturing chance after chance.
The new Germany captivated the hearts of their country and spectators around the world who watched in awe as 20-something-year olds ripped apart perennial powers like Argentina and England. Teams supporters quaked in fear of upon hearing that Michael Ballack would be absent from South Africa.
Germany’s only possible route to success without their captain and a bevy of youngsters was to reinvent themselves. Deviate from the defensive, disciplined, calculated, and tactically consistent labels that Germany was recognized by.
The 2010 National Team did that to perfection.
However, the Germans learned the hard way against Spain that even when progressing forward, it's imperative that you remember your roots. Stereotypes are not created without some truth, there's a reason the conservative German teams of old did so well.
Puyol's header off of a Spain corner kick was a study in poor marking on a set play, the very opposite of what you'd expect from German teams of the past.
Then again, this certainly was not a German team of the past.
Spain forced a new, sexy Germany to play a very gritty type of football and the world witnessed the results firsthand.
The development is undoubtedly just beginning for Germany and this team's horizons are almost certainly the brightest out of any partaking in the World Cup this year.
However, as the face and style of German football begins to change, the poor defense showcased during Puyol's goal serves as a harsh reminder that marching forward doesn't mean you shouldn't look back on the players, teams and tactics that made your country so great.
The German youth army may be re-writing the books on how football is played in Deutschland, but they should not forget to pay homage to the fact that they stand on the shoulders of giants. The concession of Spain's textbook goal was the first painful step on Germany's new path.