Germany may be European football’s powerhouse but they are perennial chokers too. They may have won the World Cup and the European Championships thrice but they have also been runners up on as many occasions in Euros, four times in World Cups and have a further four third place finishes. If Germany hadn’t choked they would have easily been the most successful national team in the history of football and there wouldn’t have been any place for any sort of debate. What goes wrong every time they near a final?
Germany simply steamrolled over their opponents during the 2010 World Cup beating the likes of England and Argentina before crashing out in the semi-final against Spain. They had a magnificent outing during Euro 2008 but unfortunately lost in the final against La Furia Roja. Germany were promising contenders at the 2006 World Cup on home soil as they breezed through the group stages and the first two knock out rounds, beating Argentina and Sweden before conceding two goals in two minutes in the second half of extra time in the semi-final against Italy. The same thing had happened at the 2002 World Cup as Germany managed to reach the final but lost to a classy Brazilian side. It is said that history doesn’t remember losers but we have to make an exception here that Germany have lost so many times at the crucial stage that they are hard to forget.
|GERMANY'S CLOSE CALLS|
2002 World Cup
2006 World Cup
2010 World Cup
The “Runner-Up” man Michael Ballack symbolizes this trend of German fallacy. The best German player of his time by a distance, Ballack never won a major international trophy for club or country and accordingly is now somewhat a forgotten man. The veteran, who is past his best now, is not regarded as a champion, and with each passing day his memory fades. I do not understand why he chose to wear the No. 13 jersey for club and country as the No.13 is considered an unlucky number in some parts of the world. Ballack was a part of the “Neverkusen” team that was at the forefront to win the Bundesliga, German Cup and the Champions League but lost in all competitions eventually and didn’t manage to win a single trophy off a promising season. Ballack also lost the Champions League final against Manchester United while playing for Chelsea. He was also a part of the “choking” German teams of the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups and Euro 2008.
Bayern Munich are the latest German club to have choked at death. They had the chance to win the Champions League and the German Cup but lost in both finals. In the Bundesliga, they gave up the lead they enjoyed and conceded the title to Dortmund. Many star players have their CVs deprived of the world’s most coveted trophies like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Phillip Lahm, who are set to become German legends when they finally hang up their boots but will they have anything that they can brag about? I wonder what goes wrong at the final moment. Is it nerves? Or is it complacency? Whatever that is, Germany need to overcome that barrier and add to their glorious history.
Italy have never lost a competitive fixture against Germany and it will be déjà vu as the Die Nationalelf face the team that dumped them out of the 2006 and 1970 World Cups at the same stage of the tournament. Despite Germany having arguably the best squad situation of any nation entering the tournament, the question must be asked: do they really have the 'champions' mentality in their squad to lift the title? Or will they play a good tournament only to collapse at the last hurdle?
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