One of the most popular posts that went viral on Facebook had on it images of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and the Germany squad. The caption was: “Portugal have Ronaldo, Argentina have Messi, Brazil have Neymar, but Germany have got a team.”
That just about sums up the newly crowned world champions perfectly. They were easily the most cohesive, tightest unit at the tournament. No superstars, just a bunch of exceptionally talented players who worked hard and followed the astute tactics of manager Joachim Low.
Most Cayman residents at sports bars around the island were supporting Argentina, but barring Germany having a bizarre off day and Messi producing his best game ever, there was little chance of an upset.
Mario Götze’s fabulous goal in the 113th minute separated the teams, but in reality the gulf is much wider. The Germans look set to dominate for years to come.
There were plenty of Germans in local bars lapping up the action, like Nicholas Kestler with his friend Vicky Banks who watched at Overtime, surrounded by Argentine supporters.
Jurgen Buttner was one of few Germans living in Cayman who was not elated by the result. “In general I don’t have much nationalist feelings when I watch football,” he said. “I primarily just want to see a nice game with two attacking teams. But the rest of the German nation is for sure in a different mood. “Back home they were celebrating hard and most people were eagerly waiting to see the team win.
“In some way it seems as if football has become much more important for many people than most other things. It reminds me about a collective mass hysteria and that is something that frightens me more than it delights me.”
For Germany to remain the best, Buttner feels they only have to continue their recent policy.
“But don’t expect them to win now every tournament,” he said. “Other nations can play football too and they will try to catch up. In football, no team reigns forever, as the example of Spain proves. But when you look back, in most tournaments, Germany was among the top four teams and that will probably not change.”
He was not surprised when Germany annihilated Brazil 7-1, nor that they beat Argentina in the final.
“If you compare the players against each other, simply the team with the best lineup won. Most Germans are extremely satisfied now, especially after the disappointment of losing closely at previous tournaments.”
Buttner puts the victory down to a program started over a decade ago to raise Germany’s international success.
“The declared objective was to identify and support the best qualified players in a young age and to support them to get to the top,” he said, which certainly worked.
“You can also see this as proof that it is hard to stop the Germans if they really have a goal. Usually we will not give up until we achieve our goals, since that is our mentality.”
Renard Moxam is the recently appointed director of National Teams by the Cayman Islands Football Association. He watched the tournament from an administrator’s perspective as well as a fan’s.
Moxam felt Germany were the best organized team and were the cleverest tactically throughout. He was also impressed that Germany built their own environment in Brazil, going back to their purpose-built base in Santo Andre every time, unlike other teams who adapted existing venues to suit their needs. (England used a military training center.)
No detail was left to chance by the Germans, so apart from having exceptional players, they also looked the most thoroughly prepared of the 31 visiting teams.
The fact that Germany revamped their youth program years ago with the specific aim of winning this tournament resonates with Moxam in his role with CIFA.
As for entertainment, he gave the tournament eight out of 10 considering it tied for the record number of goals – 171 – with France in 1998. “Every game was a fantastic spectacle, except for the Luis Suarez biting incident, of course,” Moxam said. “It was certainly the best World Cup I’ve watched on TV.”
He had predicted Brazil would win the tournament because of home advantage, but once Germany thrashed Portugal 4-0 in their opener, he put them on level pegging with the hosts.
Germany’s dominant midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger was the player that most caught Moxam’s eye. “He ran his team, he was the boss,” Moxam said. “He set the standards and gave 100 percent.
“I also thought Thiago Silva (the Brazil captain) was a good leader who milked as much as he could get out of a moderate team.”
Moxam feels that Germany are at the start of a 10-year cycle and will probably dominate world football in that time. “But Brazil, Argentina, Spain and maybe France and England can improve if they get their development programs right.”
Kenneth Nicholas is a youth coach with Scholars International. He thought this was the second best World Cup, France ‘98 generating the most excitement.
“The fact that Germany had come so close in the last three major tournaments proved that it was only a matter of time before they won one,” he said.
“I think they will be as solid for the next eight years because they seem to have two replacements equally as good in every position.”
Nicholas also thought that Thomas Mueller was the smartest player in the tournament with his astute movement and finishing ability.
Nicholas supported Argentina in the final and was impressed with their improved defense line.
He believes if they can maintain that stability at the back they could be world champions in the future because with the likes of Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín and Ángel di María, they will have no problems penetrating defenses.