Updated 09:49 AM EDT, Wed, Apr 21, 2021

2014 World Cup: A look at Germany’s Road to the Final

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Before humiliating Brazil last Tuesday, and long before handily winning Group G, Germany dealt with skepticism around manager Joachim Low and the squad he pieced together.

A 2-2 draw with Cameroon prior to the tournament forced Low to point out areas of weakness. He cited poor passing, numerous errors, and playmaker Mesut Ozil's uninspired performance. The Germans needed a spark.

Low found it in Germany's World Cup opener against Portugal. Led by Thomas Mueller's three-goal effort, they destroyed the European powerhouse 4-0 and simmered talk of Ozil's inclusion. More importantly, it showed Die Mannschaft was ready to dominate the "Group of Death."

On June 21, Miroslav Klose climbed off the bench to salvage a draw against Ghana. The only remaining German player from the 2002 World Cup final team scored in the 71st minute to tie Ronaldo for most World Cup goals all-time at 15. He would make history a few weeks later.

A rain-soaked Arena Pernambuco was the setting for a 1-0 victory over the United States. Germany's stifling midfield came together to allow a 68 percent ball possession rate while incessantly pressing the ball into American territory. Rarely tested through group play, the Germans nearly let their World Cup bid slip away in the Round of 16.

Germany survived an extra-time affair with Algeria that exploited weaknesses Group G teams failed to see. With a 5-1-3-1 formation and numerous changes to their starting lineup, the Desert Foxes' defense rattled "the machine" with an exciting counter-attacking style. Fortunately for the Germans, Ozil stepped up late in extra time and they survived. Change needed to be made.

Low set up a midfield of Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, and Ozil for their quarterfinal match with France. The French never had a chance. For the first time since romping Portugal, the three-time champions flowed like a well-oiled machine. Mark Hummels scored the game winner in the 13th minute while France struggled to form any kind of attack.

With Neymar and captain Thiago Silva sidelined, Germany enter their semifinal contest with Brazil favorites. By the time 90 minutes expired they had embarrassed the host nation with a 7-1 blasting that went to the point that they stopped celebrating goals.

It was easily Germany's most rewarding victory since winning the 1990 championship game. Klose's 23rd minute strike made him the World Cup's all-time leading goal scorer while Kroos and Schurrle each scored multiple times. The Brazilian's allowed four goals within a six minute span in the first half, frustrating the defense and their ineffective strikers.

Germany was the first team to score as many goals against Brazil in 74 years.

Now, they face the greatest player in the world with the tournament's title on the line. Messi single-handedly led Argentina to the World Cup final despite injuries to key striker and set-up man Angel di Maria.

The Germans aren't fazed by Messi. They shut Ronaldo down and depressed a whole nation with their drubbing of Brazil. Germany's gone through enough criticism over the last month to worry; they've got a near-unstoppable unit working on all cylinders.

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