Germany 2014 is part of 90min's 20 Greatest Teams of the Decade series.

Transitions and rebuilds are annoying things for football fans.

Progress often seems to be bogged down and the promise of eventual success never seems to materialise.

However, Germany's story shows how a nation can rise from international tournament disappointment to reestablish themselves as a powerhouse once again.

Philipp Lahm

Their crowning moment came in 2014 when Mario Gotze's extra-time strike won Die Mannschaft the World Cup, but the rebuild that followed the disastrous Euro 2000 campaign eventually led to that defining moment.

Players like Oliver Kahn and Michael Ballack would pull them through to the 2002 World Cup final in Yokohama before another early exit in the 2004 European Championship.

Hosting the 2006, the World Cup in Germany saw a number of the country's future stars start to assert themselves on the international stage. Defensive stalwarts like Per Mertesacker and Philipp Lahm were thrown in, Bastian Schweinsteiger was given the left wing to patrol and the pair of Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski would terrorise opposition sides for the next eight years.

German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger

Fast forward eight years, during which time they would finish second at Euro 2008, third at the 2010 World Cup and lose in the semi finals at Euro 2012, and Germany were celebrating their triumph at the 2014 World Cup, Lahm and Schweinsteiger among the group's leaders charging around Brazil with the most prized trophy on the planet.

Manager Joachim Low, who took charge of the side in 2006, masterminded a squad evolution when he took over that resulted in the identification of some of the world's greatest young talents, culminating in those same players eventually writing their names in history. Players like Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Klose, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer.

The team lost just once in 2013 on the road to the World Cup, building on their resolute backline by playing to the strengths of their fascinating attacking players.

Muller, often the star at 2010's showpiece, again emerged as Germany's prime goalscoring threat at 2014's event, though they also had players like Andre Schurrle, who didn't start a game during the tournament and yet still ended up with three goals as well as the assist for that winning goal in the final.


The ageing Klose still had enough to fire in a couple of goals, while even Mats Hummels got on the end of a few crosses.

It was Muller who helped Germany make an incredible statement in their first match, the ​Bayern Munich forward scoring a hat trick and also playing a part in getting defender Pepe sent off as Portugal were beaten 4-0. Surprisingly enough, that clinical streak seemed to desert Low's side until, erm, ​a certain semi final, as Ghana held on for a 2-2 draw, while the USA were only just seen off 1-0.

While they lacked urgency in their round of 16 clash with Algeria, a 2-1 victory over the underdogs in extra time was enough to set up a quarter final berth with France, which Hummels' header ultimately decided, setting up the semi final with Brazil.

That game in Belo Horizonte probably summed up the Germany squad most fittingly. If you ask football fans which game from that tournament they remember most clearly, it won't be the final. It won't be England's 0-0 draw with Costa Rica, or the stalemate between Japan and Greece.

Philipp Lahm,Benedikt Hoewedes,Miroslav Klose,Mats Hummels,Thomas Mueller,Sami Khedira,Bastian Schweinsteiger,Jerome Boateng

It will be the 7-1. 

Ruthlessly pragmatic and efficient, Germany put the emotion of the occasion - which clearly got to a Thiago Silva and Neymar-less Brazil - to one side and had the game won after half an hour. Well, 29 minutes, to be perfectly exact. 

Two more goals followed in the second half, but the reaction to Oscar's strike was also telling. Germany were furious to have conceded, even though the game was effectively won so early on. Score seven goals, sure, but letting one in always means there's room for improvement.

And that improvement came in the final. The warriors like Schweinsteiger - who produced arguably the most heroic performance of his career - Hummels and Lahm finished the tournament almost flat out breathless as their summer concluded with a World Cup triumph, in the end courtesy of Mario Gotze's touch and finish.

While they may never be best buds with Brazil fans and may not gain as many admirers as the 2010 Spain side or France's 1998 squad, Germany and their triumph should never be overlooked. Given how long it took to get their players to take that final step, the triumph was a crowning achievement for Low, whose patience was ultimately repaid.

Euro 2000 may forever be a low point in German football, but it seems it was ultimately necessary in setting the wheels in motion. 14 years is a very long time in football. Hell, in 2033 we could be talking about Morecambe's Premier League triumph in 2028/29 or Derry City winning the Champions League in 2031. Ok, Germany probably - probably - have more resources than either of those sides, but so many nations have come unstuck when it comes to hitting the reset button and starting all over again. They lack a clear plan and end up coasting until something terrible happens.

Mario Gotze

But not Germany. Those in charge identified what was wrong and ensured focus was put in the right areas conducive to success in the future.

A journey certainly felt completed with Lahm lifting the World Cup trophy, as he and a number of other squad members retired from international football soon after, content that this was the happiest possible ending on the world stage. 

The infrastructure is still there, and Germany's 2014 World Cup winners put the final blueprint into action, becoming an iconic and legendary team in the process.

For more from Jude Summerfield, follow him on Twitter!

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