RIO DE JANEIRO – There are different levels of satisfaction in winning the World Cup. It is the peak of rapture for every victor, the greatest feeling in soccer, the pinnacle of a career, in many cases the end of a long and exhausting journey.
But for others it is merely the beginning, the fuel for more success, more nights like these, more chances to show they are the best. In the heady moments following Sunday's World Cup final, this was how it seemed for Germany, a team that was delighted with collecting the trophy but by no means surprised by it. It's a team that fully believes it can form a dynasty, much in the same way Spain reigned over soccer right up until its first game of this tournament.
Substitute Mario Goetze was the hero with the only goal against Argentina at the Maracana Stadium and Joachim Loew served as the wily architect of triumph, yet everyone in the Germany set-up has his place and knows it; and, most important of all, executes it with diligence and commitment.
Loew talks about his program as a consistent action in progress, not a peaking roller coaster defined by the rigid nature of major tournament scheduling. Now that Germany is at the top, he wants it to stay there.
"This was a result of 10 years of preparation and tough work," Loew said. "And a team spirit which is unbelievable. This team has a marvelous technical capacity and they have the willpower to carry this out. For that reason we made it today and are proud."
Loew has been with Germany since his days as an assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann in the run-up to the 2006 World Cup and took sole command following that tournament. It is an extraordinarily long run for a national team leader but you can't think that he will step down now, there might be a nationwide revolt if he tried to.
Next up is the European Championships in France in 2016 and on the basis of this past month, Germany will be an immediate and automatic favorite for it. And why not?
So many things point to an embarrassment of riches when it comes to talent, no expression of that greater than Loew's "boy wonder" Goetze being implemented as a substitute when he would likely start for any other team in the tournament.
Most important of all, it is a team that has found a system that no one has an answer for. It borrows heavily from the Spain team that began its glut of success at Euro 2008 and passed its way to perfection at three straight major tournaments. But even if Germany was not the sole inventor of the style that it used to pummel Portugal, France, Brazil and Argentina by a collective margin of 13 goals to one, then it deserves credit for being the only team able to effectively copy it, or a version of it.
Passing efficiency isn't the sexiest thing in soccer, neither is seamless teamwork, but in the modern game they are the most important factors. That is why Cristiano Ronaldo has been idle these past three weeks while Germany has the party of parties awaiting it in Berlin on Tuesday.
It hasn't always been easy. Germany was good, seriously good, at all the three tournaments Spain won, but fell short in one final and two semis. Loew had to convince his players to keep believing in the system.
"We have made constant progress even though we didn't make this ultimate step before," Loew added. "We believed in it and worked a lot for it. This team deserves it.
"In my time over these 10 years they have been with us, we were disappointed once or twice, but we have always played good football. We showed the best performance of all teams for seven matches and that is why we are so happy."
Happiness is one thing, contentment is another. This German machine isn't content yet. It wants more, and everyone else should watch out.
- Sports & Recreation
- Joachim Loew
- World Cup 2014