Cesar Luis Menotti believes hosting the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ was the catalyst in Germany becoming entertainers and winning Brazil 2014. Die Mannschaft were at a low ebb heading into the 18th edition of the tournament, but finished as its top scorers and in third place, losing to Italy in extra-time of an exhilarating semi-final and beating Portugal 3-1 for bronze.
The 78-year-old, who guided Argentina to glory in 1978 and was called upon for advice by Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann during the 2006 instalment, told DFB.de: “Jorge Luis Borges, a great Argentinian writer, was asked one day: ‘What characterises the philosophy of a great artist?’ Borges answered: ‘To be a great writer you must possess three things: talent, order and adventure.' The Germans have, throughout their history, always had order, but the jump in quality came with players like Franz Beckenbauer, Wolfgang Overath and Gerd Muller.
“Since 2006 they’ve been playing daring football, they’ve been collectively adventurous. One could also say that German football begun to discover the beauty of the game, to go with the efficiency they’ve always possessed. Germany have always been different from other football nations.
“Germany have not developed further in recent years because of failure, but have, despite winning important matches, continued making changes. This is key to success for international teams – making changes even when you’re successful. They have succeeded in doing something that I’ve never seen before in this form in Germany.
“I felt the buzz at the 2006 World Cup. Although they didn’t become world champions, the Germans were proud of their team. All the new, beautiful stadiums were full, the German flags in windows and cars. That was the moment when Germany fell in love with the football spectacle and no longer relied just on its efficiency. I’ve never seen such a huge street festival. I believe that, since then in Germany, it hasn’t just been important to see Germany win. People also go to the stadium to experience a spectacle."
Jogi the brave
Menotti also credits Joachim Low with turning Germany into an exciting side, and thinks others are trying to copy their formula.
“Sometimes there is a generation of players with a Maradona or Messi who ensure a jump in quality. But in this case, it seems the improvement of Germany is down to a revolution of good taste. Germany don’t have this one excellent individual, but they have many good players and, above all, a great team.
“For me the main contributor to the recent development of German football has been [Joachim Low], because he had the courage to make it happen. That deserves all my respect.
“The spectacular football that, for example, Germany and Barcelona play is changing the culture. Italy, for example, are ready to change their way of playing football because they see that Germany and Barcelona have won everything. And Catenaccio is practically in the Italians’ DNA.”
Germany sit top of Group C in European qualifying for Russia 2018, five points clear of nearest challengers Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan.