Germany: Improved MachineBy: Juan Mesa
HOW DID THEY GET HERE: Germany crushed its rivals in Group C of the UEFA qualifier. The Germans won nine out 10 games and amassed a plus-26 goal difference. The team benefited from the emergence of Borussia Dortmund in Europe, as players Marco Reus, Mats Hummels and Mario Götze (now in Bayern Munich) added more talent and strength to coach Joachim Löw’s squad, which finished third in South Africa 2010.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: The current team is arguably the fastest in German history. It is not just about the speed of Reus and Podolski and their sprints along the sides of the field, but also about the quick minds of Mesut Özil, Götze, Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Their creativity on the field blends perfectly with Germany’s proverbial effectiveness, and they can transition from defense to attack in a matter of seconds.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: It is difficult to believe, but today’s Germany seems to have a possession surplus. The team relies a lot on the midfielders, and has not been able to find effective strikers besides veteran Miroslav Klose (the only box forward in the World Cup roster). Coach Löw seems to be comfortable with this state of affairs, but after the elimination of Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals, some fans and pundits would rather switch back to Germany’s old style.
WORLD CUP CHANCES: Even though the Americas have historically been a painful place for European teams when it comes to the World Cup, Germany will always be a favorite to lift the trophy. The current team is possibly the best in Europe now. They should not have a problem in reaching the Round of 16, although Ghana, Portugal and the United States, their rivals in “Death” Group G, are tough nuts to crack. If Die Mannschaft doesn’t reach semifinals, expect Löw’s resignation letter within 24 hours.
FUN FACT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Lone striker Klose will play his fourth World Cup and is set to break some records. If he scores a single goal, he will tie Brazilian Ronaldo as the World Cup’s all-time scorer, with 15 strikes. He will also surpass Gerd Müller as Germany’s national team all-time scorer with 69 goals. Finally, if Germany reaches the final and Klose plays all the games, he will break Lothar Matthäus’s record of playing in 25 World Cup matches.
IF THEY WERE A SONG, IT WOULD BE: Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”