Germany have qualified for every FIFA World Cup™ finals, with two exceptions: the association opted out of the trip to Uruguay in 1930 due to the financial crash, and the nation was not readmitted to FIFA after the Second World War in time for the 1950 tournament. Germany have contested all other 17 finals, qualifying automatically as hosts or holders five times.
The Germans have always been strong qualifiers: in their twelve FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns to date, they have lost just twice, a 1-0 defeat to Portugal in Stuttgart in October 1995, and a thumping 5-1 defeat to England in Munich in September 2001. The Germans have never lost away from home in FIFA World Cup qualifying.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Germany lie third in the all-time world football ranking with three FIFA World Cup triumphs, behind only Brazil on five and Italy on four. The 1954 team won the tournament in Switzerland as rank outsiders, in what became known as the Miracle of Berne. Franz Beckenbauer lifted the trophy on home soil in 1974, and Lothar Matthaus followed suit at Italy 1990.
The Germans have also finished runners-up four times, in 1966, 1982, 1986 and 2002, and came third on four occasions, in 1934 and 1970, and at the last two finals in 2006 and 2010. No other team has played more matches (99) or scored more goals (222) at the FIFA World Cup finals.
The current crop
The team coached by Joachim Low served notice of its return to the global footballing elite with the runners-up spot at UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, and third place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. Germany came off second best to Spain at both tournaments by the same 1-0 scoreline, but the increasing sophistication and flair of the current generation’s attacking play, combined with traditional virtues such as discipline and efficiency, suggest the Iberians could be toppled in the not too distant future. A new-found appetite for goals – the Germans finished top scorers in both 2006 and 2010 – has also caused an approving reappraisal of the German game in many quarters.
The key players
Keeper Manuel Neuer is still young, but many experts believe he is the real deal, equipped not only to follow in the footsteps of Oliver Kahn and Jens Lehmann, but also to develop into one of the best in the world. Full-back Philipp Lahm, schemer Bastian Schweinsteiger and striker Lukas Podolski earned their international spurs long ago: each has 80 or more caps but is still very much the right side of 30.
The next generation appears immensely promising too. Real Madrid starlet Mesut Ozil, just 21 when he thrilled the crowds at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, is a gifted creative player with passing ability to match the best in the world. Up front, Thomas Muller won the adidas Golden Boot and was named Best Young Player at the 2010 finals, and Mario Gomez seems finally to be reproducing his prolific club form for his country.
Coach: Joachim Low
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Switzerland 1954, Germany 1974, Italy 1990 (Winners), FIFA U-20 World Cup Australia 1981 (Winners)
Former stars: Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Lothar Matthaus