The seeds of a new Germany
Jurgen Klinsmann, Joachim Low and Michael Ballack look back on the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, where many believe the seeds of their 2014 World Cup triumph were planted
It was the Germans' first Confederations Cup and, despite finishing third, they were beloved by the home fans for their attacking attitude and flair
**Germany scored a record 15 goals, more than eventual champions Brazil who boasted a line-up with Adriano at his prime, Kaka and Ronaldinho
Sometimes the past and the future collide with explosive results. That’s what happened in 2005 at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Germany. The host Germans had set upon a bold path to turn their football, so long about physicality, competitiveness and grit, into something to make the whole country, and the football-loving world, smile.
This was a brave notion as the tried-and-trusted “German way” had led to seven FIFA World Cup™ Finals and three titles since 1954. But, scheduled to play host to the World Cup again in 2006 under the cheery banner of 'A time to make friends', attack and freedom had infiltrated the country’s football. The appeal of positive play captured the nation’s imagination. It was such a playful approach to the game that some German fans might have thought imposters were wearing the famous white kit in the European summer of ‘05.
“There was a great atmosphere that summer,” Germany coach, then and now, Joachim Low said about the eight-team event in 2005, a warm-up of sorts for the 2006 World Cup. “There was a new spirit of optimism in our country then.”
The German team typified this new optimism, and the coaching tandem of Low and former German World Cup winner from 1990, Jurgen Klinsmann, electrified the watching world. Die M**annschaft displayed style, grace, and most of all, attacking flair. And while they only managed to finish third, they scored a whopping nine goals in the group stage alone. In fact, their lowest-scoring game was the semi-final loss to a sumptuous Brazil led by Ronaldinho and Kaka. They were beaten 3-2 in one of the most exciting contests in Confederations Cup history.
“When you look back on a tournament you don’t win, there’s a certain amount of disappointment,” Klinsmann told FIFA.com about the competition where the home fans saluted their team with a standing ovation despite failing to reach the final. “But we accomplished what we set out to. Our goal was to play with energy and passion, to push the ball forward and not let the other teams dictate the play. We did that and we did it with style."
“The spectators were right behind us,” said captain Michael Ballack, who scored from the spot in a goal-littered opener with Australia which ended 4-3. “They really embraced the tournament in 2005. The matches were all sold-out. It had real significance and, as a player, you notice that. It makes a difference. There’s a great motivation that comes with that.”
If you look with a vision too narrow, you might think the change of approach exemplified by the 2005 German team wasn’t successful. They only managed to finish third, after all, the same place they finished with a similar flair in 2006 and then four years after that again at South Africa 2010. But it planted the seeds for a glorious future as a high-flying German side winning their fourth World Cup crown with style in 2014.
This year in Russia, the Germans – reigning world champions – head back to the Confederations Cup where all that optimism, hope and change began. Be prepared for them to provide goals and excitement aplenty as they reap the harvest of those seeds they planted in ‘05.