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Unwavering team spirit behind Germany's World Cup triumph

December 23, 2014 11:36 IST

The 2014 World Cup was a captivating carnival of football with high drama, and Germany displayed their credentials as worthy champions

Manuel Neuer of Germany lifts the World Cup trophy with his team after defeating Argentina 1-0

Manuel Neuer of Germany lifts the World Cup trophy with his team after defeating Argentina 1-0. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It had been 18 years since Germany last won an international title and the pressure on the football powerhouse to finally deliver on promises was immense at the World Cup in Brazil.

The Germans could not have scripted a better scenario for their fourth World Cup victory in July, soaking up setbacks and injury bad luck along the way to crown a decade of unsuccessful attempts with the most important silverware of all.

Semi-finalists at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, runners-up at Euro 2008 and in the last four again at Euro 2012, the Germans had long been knocking on the door of success.

Germany celebrate with the World Cup trophy

Germany players celebrate with the World Cup trophy. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

But for different reasons, it always eluded them with critics saying coach Joachim Loew's team was brimming with talent but lacked the character to take that last decisive step.

They also lacked, some said, a strong personality on the pitch, a natural leader in the mould of Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthaeus or Michael Ballack

A day before leaving for Brazil, Germany suffered another blow with in-form winger Marco Reus being ruled out with an injury in their last warmup game.

Instead of choking again, Germany rose to the occasion in style, becoming the first European team to win the World Cup on American soil.

From left, Germany's Roman Weidenfeller, Shkodran Mustafi, Andre Schuerrle, Miroslav   Klose, Mario Goetze and Toni Kroos

From left, Germany's Roman Weidenfeller, Shkodran Mustafi, Andre Schuerrle, Miroslav Klose, Mario Goetze and Toni Kroos appear on stage during celebrations to mark the team's 2014 Brazil World Cup victory. Photograph: Alex Grimm/Pool/Reuters

The Germans got off to a superb start, firing four goals past Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal but their campaign then started to stutter.

A 2-2 draw against Ghana was followed by a nervous 1-0 win over the United States as they advanced to the knockout stage.

Right back Philipp Lahm had started the first four games in a new holding midfield position but the captain had failed to impress as he had done for about a decade in his defensive role.

Only late in their 2-1 extra-time win over Algeria in the last 16 did Loew what most Germans had been demanding since the start of the tournament, switching Lahm back to the full-back position.

Head coach Joachim Loew of Germany hugs Kathrin Gilch, girlfriend of Manuel Neuer

Head coach Joachim Loew of Germany hugs Kathrin Gilch, girlfriend of Manuel Neuer of Germany, as Montana Yorke, girlfriend of Andre Schuerrle of Germany, and Sarah Brandner, girlfriend of Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany, look on. Photograph: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Germans were transformed instantly into the team who had won over scores of fans in the past years: the quick, attacking team who ripped apart Argentina and England in the previous tournament, firing four goals past each of them.

The Germans were never really troubled by France in their 1-0 quarter-final win, setting the stage for a mouth-watering semi-final with hosts and five-time winners Brazil.

The game on July 8 in Belo Horizonte's Mineirao stadium will long remain in the collective memory of football fans over the world as Germany tore up the record books with a 7-1 annihilation of the hosts.

With four goals in six minutes and a 5-0 lead after only 29, the Germans played the perfect game as Miroslav Klose also edged past former Brazil striker Ronaldo to become the World Cup's all-time top scorer with 16 goals.

Football fans supporting the German

Football fans supporting the German national team celebrate. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Mario Goetze's extra-time winner in their 1-0 final victory against Lionel Messi's Argentina seemed merely to be the logical consequence of the events that preceded the final in the Rio de Janeiro's Maracana.

The Germans never lost focus of their goal even when Sami Khedira was ruled out moments before the start of the final with a warm-up injury and when his replacement Christoph Kramer was taken off after only half an hour with a hit to the head.

Impressive depth in their hugely talented squad and their unwavering team spirit carried them to the deserved title.

The Germans returned home to a heroes' welcome, with more than half a million fans pouring onto the Berlin streets, their title thirst finally quenched.

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