“Pudelwohl”, this translates as “feeling as happy as a poodle”, and a feeling which has been absent from the Germany World Cup camp for the past five days.
Indeed, it was all going swimmingly well for Joachim Low’s side until they met a plucky Ghana side who not only stung Germany twice in the form of two exquisite goals but also alighted fresh fears of international hopelessness.
A fear which has engulfed the history of the Germany Football Association for the past 18 years where consecutive tournaments have resulted in the three times World Cup champions crashing out when it really matters.
Since being completely outplayed by Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil side in the 2002 World Cup final in which Rudi Voller’s out of shape Germany lost 2-0, the central European powerhouse have reached three semi-finals and one final before being given their marching orders in often the cruellest of ways.
Take 2006 for example, with Germany less than two minutes away from a place in the World Cup final in Berlin via a penalty shootout with Italy, they conceded a brace of quick-fire goals from Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero which left the hopes of a proud footballing nation in tatters.
Fast forward six years to Euro 2012, and it was a given that Germany would win their third European Championship, and went into the tournament as the only team which was realistically expected to win the pinnacle of UEFA football.
After three sensational group victories over Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark they managed to overcome a scare to beat minnows Greece 4-2, before setting up another date with a team that they are yet to beat in a competitive situation, Italy.
For all Germany’s firepower and spirited play to prove to the Europe that they wouldn't bottle yet again, they were efficiently cut to pieces under the knife of Mario Balotelli and company, and were set packing only to watch on in disbelief from the comfort of their own homes.
Two years later and it seems that there is yet another breath of doubt blowing across the Germany training camp in Bahia, following a depressive 2-2 draw against Ghana and a lukewarm 1-0 win against Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA.
With Germany’s blistering 4-0 win over Portugal on the opening game of Group G the media quite typically listed the three times World Champions as one of the three potential winners alongside Brazil and Argentina.
Although Germany are often regarded as a team who often perform in situations of high pressure and intensity with many people bringing up the likes of their nail-biting World Cup semi-final penalty shootout victory over England in Italy 1990, it would seem that this is far from being reality.
Sense of expectancy
Joachim Low’s side buckle under pressure and it would seem that there has never been a greater expectancy for the Eagles to return to Frankfurt with the World Cup trophy carefully positioned in the flight cockpit.
Five minutes watching ARD, the BBC One of German television, would leave you wondering if the national football channel had taken over during the course of the World Cup.
Every single advert during the commercial breaks is centred on Low and his flock of all of sorts footballers as they prepare to take on the world, with the majority of them resembling Roman and Greek gods.
The German population does not wish, but expects Low’s side to storm to victory in Brazil after being fooled into believing that many years of careful preparation has led to the holy grail of tournament football.
No more excuses
German fans have experienced heartache after heartache, excuse after excuse and plan after plan since Low took over from Jurgen Klinsmann following the outcome of the 2006 World Cup.
Excuses have also become a trademark of Low’s tournament rhetoric with each semi-final and final defeat being met with, we were not ready this year, we are still and young team, we will want it more next time around and best of all, have trust in me.
This trust is running thin and the only thing which could possibly save the 54-year-old's future with the national team is to win the World Cup and return to Germany with the proof very much in the pudding.
Tensions running high
At the moment in time, Germany have been far from impressive in their last two group games with questions being raised about Low’s hold on the team with tensions running high within the camp.
An unfit Bastain Schweinsteiger wants to lead the starting line in the centre of Germany’s midfield whilst Philipp Lahm only wants to play in his favoured sweeper position, whilst ignoring any plea from his manager to revert back to his profound right-back role.
Whilst the selection dilemma regarding Germany’s attack has never been greater with Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze, Miroslav Klose, and Andre Schurrle all wanting to play the number nine role, whilst Lukas Podolski has also given his two pennies worth.
Low must also make a serious decision over defender Benedikt Howedes and midfielder Mesut Ozil who seem to be making mistake after mistake and are effectively damaging the team’s chances of winning in the bigger games.
It almost seems that the tension of winning Germany its fourth consecutive World Cup has also affected the morale of the players with doubts being raised whether perhaps 2014 is another year which will end in tragedy.
Having said this, Germany normally shine in the last-16 and the quarter finals scoring some extraordinary goals and beating some of the fellow big boys along the way, but rest assured to go out yet again in the semi-final will simply not do.
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