Winning Mood Germany Basks in World Cup Semifinal Triumph
Germany demolished Brazil on Tuesday in an extraordinary match that left the host nation reeling, its hopes of a World Cup victory brutally shattered. But despite delivering the most shocking result in the soccer tournament's history, Joachim Löw and his team aren't taking anything for granted.
Tuesday night saw Germany destroy Brazil on the pitch in Belo Horizonte in a World Cup semifinal that made sporting history. Scoring five goals in 18 breathtaking minutes on their way to a 7-1 win, Germany unleashed a blistering performance that left its rivals in shambles.
With Brazil deprived of its star player Neymar, who suffered a fractured vertebrae in the quarterfinal against Colombia last week, the team was vulnerable -- and Germany was ruthless.
"We were ice-cold about exploiting the Brazilians' weaknesses," said German head coach Joachim Löw.
But no one on the German team is crowing. Toni Kroos, who contributed two goals, played down Germany's epic triumph. "No one became world champion in a semifinal," he said.
If ever Germany had grounds to get carried away by a result it would be now. The midfielder and his team mates have learned to be cool-headed from down-to-earth Löw, who is renowned for his almost scientific approach. He reacted to what his predecessor Jürgen Klinsmann hailed on Twitter last night as Germany's greatest ever performance at a World Cup with characteristic prudence.
"Obviously the feeling is great right now," he said, with only the faintest of smiles. "But it continues. We need to be humble. We don't want to overvalue this."
Löw, who was Klinsmann's assistant coach in 2006 when Germany was beaten by Italy 2-0 in the semifinal, said he thought the enormous pressure on the hosts had potentially been a burden.
"We had great hopes in 2006 too and you can feel the pressure that the hosts have in a match like this," Löw said.
"All 200 million people here want you to get to the final. That can cause your players to tighten up. I feel sorry for (Scolari). I think I know how he feels."
Humility and Focus
But Löw himself remains as workmanlike as ever, cautioning against jubilation given Sunday's looming final against either Argentina or Holland, depending on who wins Wednesday night's second semifinal match.
Were Germany to take home the trophy, it would be its fourth World Cup win. The last German win came when West Germany took the cup in 1990 in a final against Argentina in Rome. Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck are expected to attend the final on Sunday in Rio's Maracanã Stadium.
"Now we will have to be modest and prepare the next step," said Löw. "We don't want to overrate this. The players have their feet firmly planted on the ground."
"Nobody should feel invincible. It will not be like this semi-final," he insisted.
The players were similarly low-key. "We're happy, but we have a tough game ahead of us," said Kroos. ""The final will be tighter than today so we'll have to deliver another top performance."
For the moment, though, Germany is looking pretty invincible. The team is at the top of its game, with a line-up including striker Miroslav Klose, now the tournament's all-time leading scorer with 16 goals, currently making it the clear favorite for the title.
"I don't care if we made history tonight," said defender Jérôme Boateng in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday. "I want to write history on Sunday."