Former England striker turned TV pundit Gary Lineker was the first to come up with the phrase, that was so often put to use: "Football is a simple game 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes. At the end, the Germans win". And so, we may be not talking Brazilian samba here, or English toughness and intensity, but Germany's football is certainly a prime example of efficiency (sometimes almost machine-like) and adaptation to the ever-changing world of football. And it had turned the national team into the most decorated team in Europe and second only to Brazil in terms of expectations and certainly collecting World Cup winners medal. On the way to all those major accolades, Germany has produced an ever-lasting line of fine young footballers.
Germany is the only country in the world that had three different national football teams during post World War II - West Germany, East Germany and Saarland, who played under French occupation between 1950-1956. It's also the only country that had to merge two different leagues – the East into the West – into one, the Bundesliga.
Germany took part in the second tournament in Italy 1934 finishing 3rd after losing to Czechoslovakia in the semifinals.
After getting banned from the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, the Germans shook the world by winning the World Cup during the 1954 tournament in Switzerland. After getting trounced by Hungary (The Magical Magyars) 3-8 in the group stage, West Germany faced them again in the final match with no actual chance of winning against one of the best team in the world then. The sensational 3-2 victory which gave the West Germans their first ever title, marked the start of an unforgettable achievement period, that some say has never really ended, except for some difficulties along the way.
After losing to England in the final match of the 1996 FIFA World Cup in Wembley Stadium on a Geoff Hurst still controversial goal, (a tournament that marked the beginning of the Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and the rest of the Bayern Munich dominated national team), the Germans advanced to the semifinals of the 1970 World Cup, only to lose 3-4 to Italy, in what became known as "The Game of the Century".
The West German signaled their intentions in winning the 1972 Euro. Two years later, they came back home and won it all in Munich's Olympic Stadium 2-1 over the Netherlands, despite losing to their arch rivals from East Germany during the group stage.
The 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall marked not only the end of the two states, but also a major overhaul to German football. Prior to the unification, Germany managed to win the 1990 World Cup for the third time, defeating Argentina in the final and making Beckenbauer the first ever to raise the cup as a national team captain and now a manager.
After a frustrating time in the late 90's and early 2000's, where Germany was forced out of major tournaments after the first round due to poor showings, it was evident that a change was necessary. The country had established a line of football academies for the benefit of young players and set forth a coaching policy, that would focus on the natural development of players, rather than emphasizing the technical necessities. Those players rose through the ranks, matured and came together under Jorgen Klinsmann in the 2006 world cup. Although Germany lost in the semifinals, the national team played some exciting, almost un-German like football, and the core of the next generation was put in place. It took eight more years for Germany to lift its fourth cup. After a stunning 7-0 win over host Brazil in the semifinals, Germany again defeated Argentina 1-0 in the Maracanã on a Mario Gotze extra time goal.
Lothar Matthäus is the most capped player of the national team, with 150 appearances to his credit, while Miroslav Klose is the leading scorer, with 71 goals in 137 appearances.
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