As the 2022 World Cup in Qatar approaches, we must take a step back and look at some of the most memorable moments in football history. One of these moments would be the incredible tournament that the 2014 German national team had during that World Cup. Lets take a look back and reflect on how they earned their fourth star.
During the path to earning the fourth star, the Germans had lined up with a deep roster with great players in every position. The team lined up with a 4-2-3-1, which is a very common formation that allows for defensive stability, and significant offence if played correctly. Tactically this formation allows for build up play to involve all players, will also allowing multiple players to attack.
Defensively, the roster lined up with the the world’s best goalie Manuel Neuer at the time, who was coming off of dominating Bundesliga win in 2014, and a Champions League win in 2013 with Bayern Munich. Two other Bayern Munich teammates that joined Neuer in the backline were team captain Phillip Lahm and Jerome Boateng. Both of which were considered top players in their position at the time of the tournament. Benedikt Howedes (Schalke) and Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund) rounded out the defense, both of which are known for their consistency and experience. Hummels was also known for his on ball control as a central defender, which allowed for safety and control throughout the backline, while also conjoining the midfield.
Defensive midfield consisted of Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern) and Sami Khedira (Real Madrid/Juventus). These two players provided the team with defensive stability, control, and retention of the ball. They acted as pivots that would also support the offensive midfielders, and the defense. Schweinsteiger especially demonstrated his class this tournament through his organization and leadership.
In terms of offensive midfielders, the team was loaded with talent, as it consisted of Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid), and Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich). All three of these players were world class, at the time of their position. Ozil was considered arguably the best playmaker in the world at the time. Kroos had always provided the same consistency and control of the game throughout his entire career, and his impact on this team was no different. Muller was the reigning golden boot winner from the 2010 World Cup, and had shown what he could do since then.
Finally we have Miroslav Klose who had represented Germany in four different World Cups (2002-2014), and in this very moment is the overall top goal scorer in World Cup history (16).
Coming off of the bench, the roster had youngsters like Julian Draxler, Matthias Ginter, Mario Gotze, and Andre Schurrle. The bench also carried experienced veterans like Mustafi, and back up goal keeper Roman Weidenfeller.
At the start of the 2014 tournament, the German national team was put in the Group G. This group was considered the group of death and consisted of Portugal, The United States, and Ghana.
The reason that this group was considered so treacherous is because of the fact that generally all of the teams involved had high FIFA rankings, making for one of the highest FIFA ranking coefficients. Though the Germans were the favorites with a FIFA ranking of 2, Portugal followed closely behind being ranked the 5th best team in the world, United States being ranked in at 14, and Ghana being ranked at a respectable 24th.
In addition to the surprisingly highly ranked teams being pitted against each other in the same group, Portugal had the surprise of the global international superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ghana was the last African team to be eliminated in the 2010 World Cup, in controversial none the less. At the previous tournament, Ghana had won the hearts of the the fans and the world as they progressed, and they were seen as a potential underdog who could upset higher ranked teams.
To open up the tournament, Germany faced off against the second best team in the group. The Portuguese lined up with Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, Rui Patricio, and Nani. The team itself was a tough opponent but the Germans handled the game with ease after a Pepe red card, leaving the Portuguese down to ten men in the 37th minute of the match.
The final score of the game was 4-0 with Thomas Muller scoring a hat trick, and Mats Hummels scoring one for himself. This game was one to remember as Thomas Muller scoring 3 goals put him to 8 total World Cup goals.
Portugal eventually were eliminated from the tournament, finishing third in the group, behind the Americans.
In the German’s second game of the group, they faced off against Ghana. Impressively, Ghana had played very well and even held a lead at one point, until Miroslav Klose scored in the 71st minute. With this goal Klose tied the World Cup goal record of 15 goals. It also tied the game at 2-2, which was how the game ended after 90 minutes of full time play.
This game was also interesting because of how tying Germany was Ghana’s only point in the group as they bowed out in 4th place. However, they stole a point away from the eventual World Champions.
In the final game of the group, the Germans faced off against the Americans in rainy game that ended with both sides moving out of the group stage.
In this game, Thomas Muller scored again, bringing his total World Cup goal total to an astonishing four in the group stage, and nine in his career. The goal was scored as a result of a creative set piece in which Ozil short crossed the ball, in which he received a one touch pass, sending a cross to a player for a scoring chance. Though that set piece ended in a save, as Tim Howard got to the end of it, the rebound fell to Muller who slotted the ball perfectly into the net.
Muller’s goal acted as the lone goal in this game 1-0, won the group, and advanced to the next round of the tournament.
After moving onto the Round of 16, the Germans were matched up against Algeria. This game went to extra time, as there was no score after ninety minutes of play. Though the Germans played much better throughout the match, there was potential fear that the match would go to a penalties, in which any team can win.
That was until Andre Schurrle ended the dead lock in the 92nd minute when he scored coming off the bench as a substitute, starting to slowly earn recognition as a super-sub. The game was sealed in the 119th minute however, with Mesut Ozil scoring his first of the tournament. Algeria however did get a consolation goal in the 121st minute.
In the Quarter Finals, the Germans were paired against long time rivals France. The French had a star strutted line up consisting of Griezmann, Benzema, Varane, and Lloris. This was also one of the first times in which the world had eyes on a young Paul Pogba.
Though a close game, a 12th minute goal by Mats Hummels put German up 1-0, which ended up being the final score. The goal was scored off of a header sent from free kick from set piece specialist Toni Kroos. Lloris was left hopeless as the ball hit the cross bar and into the net. This sent the Germans to the Semi Finals
In the Semi Finals of this tournament, we might have one of the most shocking moments in football history. Germany versus Brazil in the Estado Mineirão. It goes without question that outcome of this game was known across the world, and left a scar on the Brazilian national team, as they suffered their most embarrassing defeat on their home soil.
Led by David Luiz, the Brazilian roster was missing superstars Neymar, and Thiago Silva. However they were mentally defeated and crumbled progressively as the game went on, and especially during the first half.
Thomas Muller opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the tournament (which would be his most recent world cup goal). Then Klose scored his record breaking 16th total world cup goal, becoming the highest world cup goal scorer in the 23d minute of this game. Kroos scored in the 24th minute, followed up his second of the game in the 26th minute. Khedira then scored his first of the tournament in the 29th minute. This was the end of the first half, and what would be the halfway point of a long night for the Brazilians.
Going into the second half, you could see that the Germans had taken their foot off the gas pedal ever so slightly, however Andre Schurrle then scored two goals, in the 69th and the 79th minute. The score was now 7-0 and the Germans were now going to the World Cup final.
Oscar did score in the last minute of play, in which Neuer was noticeably upset about, losing his clean sheet for that game.
In the 2014 World Cup Final, the Germans were facing Messi and Argentina. Messi who at the time was in great form, was dragging his underperforming national side to the final had much weight on his shoulders. Overall the Germans had a much stronger team, but it was possible that Messi could be the difference maker in this match to decide the World Champions.
The game was controlled throughout the match by the Germans, in which coach Low instructed his team to shut down Lionel Messi and any chances he may create. Noticeably Gonzalo Higuain missed several goal opportunities that would have put the Argentines ahead.
However, the game ended at a deadlock after ninety minutes, and looked like it was going to be decided by penalties until the 113th minute in which Andre Schurrle sent in a cross to Mario Gotze who scored.
From that point on, the game became one of slowing down the clock and stalling so that the Germans would finally earn their fourth star, and be crowned the 2014 World Cup Champions.
After reflecting on the 2014 World Cup, we can see how truly dominate the German national side was during that time. Throughout the entire tournament, they showed that as a unit, the everyone can contribute, and it was clear that pure stardom was not enough.
Instead, a cohesive unit and system was proven to be much more effective, but a little bit of flair and talent on top of that system adds just that little bit more.