Germany 2014 To Now - What’s Happened?
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Germany 2014 To Now - What’s Happened?

08/07/24 21:41

Germany 2014 To Now - What’s Happened?

Germany’s 2024 Euro campaign on home soil came to an end after their late 2-1 loss against Spain in the quarterfinals - a game with questionable decision-making by referee Michael Oliver meant that Julian Nagelsmann’s first tournament as head coach was over faster than expected.

They counted as one of the favorites alongside the Spanish side but their performance, the togetherness within the team and the happiness throughout the country showed a newfound spark that was missing since their 2014 World Cup win in Brazil.

From the dynamic to the performance and atmosphere - what has changed since their fairytale in 2014?

Germany’s 2014 Fairytale

13th of July 2014. Final against Argentina in Rio de Janeiro. 113th minute.

The moment Mario Götze scored his incredible goal to make the German national team the winners of the 2014 World Cup. An impressive journey comes to an end after beating strong opponents with confidence.

On their way they beat nations like Portugal, France and, of course, the hosts Brazil in the semi-finals. Despite the final, their 7-1 win against Brazil is probably the one game that most people remember from the whole tournament and still look back at.

In 2014 Germany’s head coach was Joachim Löw and with this success he will no doubt go down in football history. It was already clear that he would continue his role for the 2016 Euros and the expectations were reasonably high but what people did not take into account was that big players would retire in the near future and that the team would undergo changes.

Captain Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker and German legend Miroslav Klose decided to retire from international football immediately after their fairytale came to an end.

Regardless, the Germans seemed like the team to beat for the 2016 Euros in France.

After The Success and Before The Downfall - 2016 Euro

The squad for the 2016 Euros was similar to the one for 2014 but a couple of youngsters had found their way into the team around World Cup winners Bastian Schweinsteiger and Manuel Neuer.

Leroy Sané and Jonathan Tah joined the team in France to continue the German success in 2016 and once again, it seemed like the perfect start into the tournament.

Two wins and a draw in the group stage, a win against Slovakia in the round of 16 and a nerve wracking penalty shootout against Italy in the quarterfinals set the stage for their semi final against hosts France.

While playing the host in 2014 ended in a success, it came differently this time around. Despite playing a decent tournament, they lost 2-0 to France in regular time - the dream of back-to-back titles shattered.

Nonetheless, it was still an extremely high level of performance from everyone involved in the German team and despite not winning, they had once again shown that they were one of the top nations to look out for.

This time around, more players decided to end their career, such as Schweinsteiger, who had played a crucial part in die Mannschaft’s performance on and off the pitch. It was obvious that Germany’s squad was going to change and younger players at the time, like Antonio Rüdiger, Leon Goretzka and Timo Werner would be the future of this team.

Although Löw decided to stay as manager for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it was the start of a German negative run which disappointed not just German fans, but football enthusiasts all over the world.

2018 World Cup and 2020 Euros - Early Exits

It was the 27th of June 2018. Germany needed a win against South Korea in the last group stage game in order to progress into the knockout stages - but then it happened: Two late goals against the Germans in the 92nd minute and 96th minute.

The dream of a good World Cup campaign? Over. The disappointment within the team? Huge.

Overall, it was a tournament to forget and the Germans found explanations for their mistakes. At the end of the day it was an inexperienced team and it was the first major international campaign for many of them - it was a one time thing. No one was doubted because no one deserved to be doubted.

But this changed quickly during the 2020 Euros, which had been postponed to 2021 due to Covid-19.

Germany had tough opponents in their group stage with France, Portugal and Hungary but it was no difficulty for Germany to get through that. After winning against Portugal and losing to France, they played a 2-2 draw against Hungary and came second in their group behind the French.

Then, the round of 16 came up and Germany faced a strong English team, who later progressed all the way to the final.

The Germans played a decent game against England where both sides had their chances but like in 2018, the Germans got shocked late with a goal from Raheem Sterling in the 75th minute and a second one in the 86th minute by Harry Kane.

The performance itself was alright but it was questioned why Germany kept receiving these late goals and ruining matches for themselves, where the non existent goal efficiency was probably the most tragic aspect.

After these two rather disappointing performances, it was time to say goodbye and farewell to Löw.

He led his team to the top but also played a role in their downfall which is why he decided himself to take a step back from football and retire. Alongside him, the majority of the players who won the World Cup with Löw in 2014, also ended their careers and it was time for a completely new team including a new coach for the first time in 15 years.

2022 World Cup - High Hopes And Big Disappointment

The answer to who the next manager would be was a hot topic to discuss after the Euros and in the end it was Hansi Flick, former treble-winning Bayern manager, was appointed.

Flick had been part of the national team before, when he worked as their sporting director from 2014-2017 before going to Hoffenheim for one season and then becoming involved with Bayern Munich.

After what he had achieved with the Bundesliga side, the hopes were high but the disappointment which would follow was worse.

They started their tournament with a 2-1 loss against Japan but then kept their nerves together in a 1-1 draw against Spain, which was deserved. The Spanish side was not necessarily better and overall the Germans played good football that day.

Their last group game was against Costa Rica and they won that game 4-2 but it still was not enough. The same day, Spain did not beat Japan, which was necessary for the German side to qualify for the knockout stages.

It would be unfair to blame Spain for their failure and the main issue was the loss against Japan in the opening game but with how they played, it would have also been unfair for Germany to get through the group stage. They simply did not deserve it.

They reminded a little bit of the England squad this year - a lot of individual talent but as a team it did not seem to harmonize.

After Flick’s appointment as manager and new talents coming into the squad like Jamal Musiala, Youssoufa Moukoko and Armel Bella-Kotchap the whole of Germany expected more as it was not just the game playing that was bad.

The squad did not look like a team. They did not look eager to score or to win and it seemed like the priorities within the team were not right.

During the World Cup, which controversially took place in Qatar, the German national team continuously put their focus on politics, such as Manuel Neuer wearing the captain's armband in LGBTQ colors which was not permitted by the UEFA. The news was all about Germany but not about their football - it was all about politics which took the focus of the players away as well.

The whole tournament was the low point of German football and especially Flick got criticized for the bad job he did and finally decided to step back from his position in 2023 after just one tournament as manager.

On the other side, this meant another new manager with a different style of coaching was needed to try to form singular player qualities into a team effort.

Who else would be better for that job than another ex Bayern coach - Julian Nagelsmann. As he is still young himself, he most likely has different approaches than someone who has been a manager for multiple decades.

2024 Euros On Homeground: What Have We Learned?

Nagelsmann took over knowing that his first tournament as manager would be on home soil, in front of German fans who expected a football revolution.

Once again there were high expectations but at this point, it could not really get worse anymore anyways. In friendlies before the start of the 2024 Euros, the performance of the German squad was rather mixed.

A 2-0 win over France gave the fans hope, a 0-0 draw against Ukraine took it away again. Although Nagelsmann’s men seemed more united as a team, barely anyone believed that Germany would end up playing one of their best, if not their best, tournament since 2016.

In their group stage games against Hungary, Scotland and Switzerland they impressed with two wins and one draw - only Spain was better in that regard. Throughout the tournament, the Germans went from no-one to being one of the title favorites alongside the Spanish.

They confidently went through their round of 16 clash against Denmark but in the quarterfinals Spain was waiting to knock them out and they succeeded with their plans of making that game Toni Kroos’ last one.

While critics say that Germany once again did not get too far, it is incredible to see the change on a deeper level that has happened since 2022.

Looking at videos from their base camp and how the players treated each other on and off the pitch, they were a unit again. They were die Mannschaft again. Perhaps young players ,like Musiala, were not ready to play their part back then but they certainly were ready to step up and offer good football and a confident performance to the fans again.

Of course, the home fans also helped the team, as manager and players have mentioned in multiple interviews throughout the Euros, at last, after their loss against Spain, where Nagelsmann said with tears in his eyes: “I always said we needed the fans in this country because in the past, we did not give back much in terms of sport… Now, we have achieved people coming together again.”

Overall, the journey from the 2014 fairytale until now has been incredibly challenging but in a way also exciting to see. After it all went downhill, fans were able to see how something new was built and although Germany got knocked out of these Euros earlier than anticipated, it was so important for the fans to be able to see progress.

As this was a home tournament, the whole country came together and everyone in Germany believed in their football qualities again - just like they did in 2014 and as Nagelsmann said after their exit, the future will be bright for Germany: “It hurts that we now have to wait two years until we will win the World Cup.”

Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Kelly Stock

Football Writer

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