Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Steven Beacom: Why we should all admire the Germans

Germany's Miroslav Klose celebrates scoring his side's 2nd goal during the quarter-final match between Portugal and Germany in Basel, Switzerland, Thursday, June 19, 2008, at the Euro 2008 European Soccer Championships in Austria and Switzerland. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

They are in the business end of a big tournament again. In European terms German club football may be at a low ebb at the moment but their national team just keep on delivering.

The current Germany outfit, who have reached the semi-finals of Euro 2008, are not in the same league as sides that contained the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Paul Breitner, Karl Heinz Rummenigge, Lothar Mattheus, Jurgen Klinsmann and Rudi Voller but they know how to win football matches.

They are still in the tournament while fancied Portugal, France, Holland and Italy are away home.

By and large this is the same Germany squad that entered the World Cup two years without a chance in hell, even though they were hosting the competition.

Even their own supporters, normally dripping with confidence, feared the worst.

But Klinsmann's motivational ability as a rookie manager and the tactical awareness of his assistant Joachim Low inspired the home team to raise their game, beating favourites Argentina on the way to the semi-finals.

I covered their last four clash with Italy and it was an epic with the Azzurri winning 2-0 with late goals in extra time.

But for the breathtaking defensive brilliance of Fabio Cannavaro, Germany would have gone through to the final where I believe their strength of character would have seen them overcome France.

Italy's name was on the trophy two years ago.

You could say it looks the same for Germany's semi-final opponents this time given Turkey's incredible and impressive comebacks.

But I expect the Germans to overcome the resilient Turks on Wednesday and take their place in the decider, where I fancy they will face Spain in Vienna.

In the group stages of Euro 2008, Germany may have lost to Croatia, but they triumphed in grudge matches against Poland and Austria.

Pre-match the papers in Poland had virtually turned their game into a war.

Billed as one of the biggest events in Polish history, the Germans swotted them aside.

And despite a late rally from Portugal in the quarter-final, the Germans, with coach Low banished from the touchline, proved much too string for Ronaldo and co.

German sides are often considered dour and efficient. I've often felt that unfair. Against Portugal, the current crop certainly showed they could turn it on scoring a stunning team goal — for me the best of a brilliant tournament.

Michael Ballack, what a player he is when he is up for it, and the superb Lukas Podolski provided the creativity with the wonderfully named Bastian Schweinsteiger delivering the finish.

It was a goal that set up a merited victory.

I know there is a national obsession, led by Gary Lineker, to have a pop at the Germans, but England would love their record in major competitions.

The German mentality is a lesson to everyone involved in football. They are a team to be admired, not mocked.

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