Ahead of the 2010 World Cup, very few people outside of Germany gave them a real chance of making an impression in South Africa, with some considering a squad that contained several relatively little-known players regarded by some as possibly the worst squad that the three-time winners had ever sent to the World Cup.
The crop of youngsters selected by Joachim Low quickly set about proving people wrong, hitting four past an outclassed Australia, with the likes of Sami Khedira, Tomas Muller and Mesut Ozil all making a name for themselves, complimented superbly by the old hands of captain Philipp Lahm and striker Miroslav Klose.
Some teething problems then occurred in a defeat to Serbia, but they were soon back on track beating Ghana. The knockout stages was where they came alive, however, hammering a woefully inferior England 4-1 before defeating a strong Argentina side even more convincingly. Their run would be ended by eventual winners Spain in the semi-finals, but the world had been left in no doubt about the potential of the German national team for years to come.
Two years later, they were among the favourites win Euro 2012, and they justified that by winning all three games in a tough group. With the help of new boys Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle, Germany then saw off Greece, only for their run to end at the semis once again, with Mario Balotelli proving Italy’s match-winner.
The events of the last two major tournaments raise one question ahead of the 2014 World Cup. Are Germany ready to take that extra step and become world champions?
They certainly lead the European challenge at what looks set to be a World Cup which will suit the six South American nations. With the all-conquering Spaniards arguably on a slight decline, the quicker and more direct style of the Germans could take them all the way, not to mention the fact that the major tournament experience they picked up in 2010 and 2012 will be invaluable.
Low remains in charge for his fourth attempt at winning the country’s first silverware since Euro 96, and the continuity that he brings will also give them a reasonable chance of success.
This World Cup gives the latest crop of German youngsters to come to the fore. Bayern Munich star Mario Gotze has had a terrific season under Pep Guardiola and should be ready to make an impact on the international stage, while Julian Draxler could be something of a wild card. The Schalke 04 man is one of Europe’s most highly-rated players at present.
Should any position be Germany’s downfall, it would be their defence, where Mats Hummels is expected to lead by example, particularly as there is a shortage of options to play alongside him. The Borussia Dortmund star will also be relying on Bastian Schweinsteiger to provide sufficient protection.
Overall, in attack, Germany are more than a match for anyone in the 2014 World Cup. It just remains to be seen how they adapt to the conditions. Joachim Low’s side have the capabilities to go all the way, but getting past the semi-finals could prove to be the biggest hurdle they face.