Against Chile, they rallied from behind to level 1-1, while they blew African champions Cameroon away with a 3-1 victory.
Four-time world champions Germany joined an exclusive club of four nations to have won both the Fifa World Cup and Fifa Confederations cup following their 1-0 win over Chile on Sunday. The others are Brazil, Argentina and France.
The win however, could be sweeter than any previous world cup wins as Germany pulled it off with an average age of 24 - the youngest ever – and had played together for just 3 ½ weeks.
After arriving in Russia with the Fifa Confederations Cup the only one missing from their illustrious trophy cabinet that includes four Fifa World Cups and three European cups, their second string side was only expected to gain exposure and experience. Without world cup winning heroes; Tony Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze, Sami Khedira, Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer, the feeling was that coach Joachim Low had not taken the 2017 Confederations Cup seriously.
That was until Germany’s opening match when captain Draxler, striker Stindl and midfielder Leon Goretzka set the tone for what would become the feature of the tournament with the three goals that condemned Australia.
In the subsequent group games against Chile and Cameroon, the three youngsters whose burgeoning reputations are now sure to make them strong candidates for the final squad of 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia, were joined by Joshua Kimmich, Julian Brandt, Timo Werner, Kerem Demirbay and Emre Can in the impressive corner.
Against Chile, they rallied from behind to level 1-1, while they blew African champions Cameroon away with a 3-1 victory. The world was still coming to terms with the quality of this upcoming generation, when they engaged fifth gear against 1999 champions Mexico to win 4-1 in the semi-finals. The Americans had been one of the other three impressive sides in the tournament alongside Portugal and Chile but the young German side made them look pedestrian.
The new Germany has shed off the old ‘mean machine’ character they used to have in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s when efficiency rather than proficiency, battle hardened rather than fluid, were regular terms used to describe their class. Led by PSG’s 23-year-old Draxler, there is no surprise that the new 2017 Confederations cup champions finished as top scorers with 12 goals, while also having the tournament top scorer Werner with three goals. Low’s team were most pleasing on the eye, entertaining with their one-touch football while mixing it with some silky touches and intricate movement. In fact, had the Germans been more efficient and clinical, they could have managed a cricket score in each of their games.
Emulating their senior side that won the 2014 Fifa World Cup Brazil, they demonstrated their adeptness to attacking football and their tactical aptitude. In the final, the pre match favourites Chile who had ambitions of their own – to establish a new world order – failed to crack open what seemed like a steel wall. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the 25-year-old Barcelona goal keeper was unbeatable while the combination of Mustafi, Antonio Rudiger and Kimmich demonstrated a maturity at defending that should worry their senior colleagues. To a player, they were organized, focused and inspired.
When they faced adversity; during the first 15 minutes and last 20 minutes of the final, they relied on their well known character to survive the onslaught. Any other set of youngsters representing any other nation would have buckled in the face of Chile’s persistent probing. The South American champions had three of the most dangerous players in Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas but they were harassed into unforced errors. The lone winning goals scored by Stindl was not the most romantic but it followed great pressing work by Draxler who destabilized hard defender Paulo Diaz, moments after the world class Sanchez had failed to convert in a seemingly empty net.
While there’s no suggestion that any among these youngsters are set to take over their senior world class colleagues, the strength in depth they demonstrated in winning the trophy has raised alarm bells to the rest of the world. Their under 21 counter parts had just won the 2017 European U-21 championship which means that Germany are sitting right on top of world football at the moment. It’s a huge statement of intent that should awaken the likes of Spain and France who had their time to dominate world football for almost a decade but now appear to have no answers to the Germany juggernaut. German have now joined France as the only European nations to win the Fifa Confederations cup but it’s only a start. They may have gone into slumber after the turn of the 21st century but they are now back with a bang.