Germany primed to conquer Brazil

Germany primed to conquer Brazil
German national soccer players stretch during a training session in St. Martin, northern Italy, May 24, 2014. The German national soccer team's training camp, in preparation for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, began in St. Martin near Merano on May 21.

Germany have had their fill of near misses.

They have had enough of coming second, third or fourth.

This year, their only ambition is to take that final step and bring home the World Cup. And it would take a brave soul to rule them out. Die Mannschaft have narrowly missed out on silverware in four consecutive tournaments.

In 2006, Juergen Klinsmann led a team short on confidence to the World Cup semi-finals where the hosts were defeated by Italy in one of the most sparkling games of the tournament.

Two years later, with his former assistant Joachim Loew at the helm, they reached the final of the European Championships, only to be beaten by Spain in Vienna.

Hopes were high for the 2010 World Cup, but again Spain denied them, this time in the semi-finals. At Euro 2012, it looked as if Loew would have his revenge, but with Spain awaiting them in the final, Germany managed to trip up against Italy in the semi-finals.

Long-suffering German fans could be forgiven for wondering what else their team have to do to actually win something.


And yet, for all of the high profile slip-ups, this is still a happy ship.

Hardly surprising, given what has gone before.

Under Berti Vogts, Germany won Euro '96 in England, but the national team deteriorated quickly afterwards.

The 1998 World Cup campaign ended with a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Croatia, while a disastrous showing at Euro 2000 forced the German Football Association to take drastic action.

Having seen their team finish at the bottom of their group stage, beaten by a poor England side along the way, they made widespread changes to the domestic game, insisting, among other things, on a complete overhaul of the academy system.

Now, 14 years on, they are reaping the rewards.

There are few squads with more depth than this one. In almost every position, there is so much quality that it would make any rival manager green with envy. The midfield is a particular strong point with players like Bastian Schweinstiger, Thomas Mueller and Mesut Oezil leading the charge for a first-team place.

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