Can England become the new Germany at major tournaments?

(Image credit: PA Images)

Germany deserved to lift the 2014 World Cup. Perhaps for Mario Gotze’s wonderful winner in the final, or the historic 7-1 thrashing of Brazil in the previous round, or the sense that, without always being exceptional, they were probably the best team of the tournament. 

But there is a separate argument: that they merited it for perseverance, for always being among the outstanding sides in the international game, for a greater body of work. They had reached at least the semi-finals in four previous tournaments. It scarcely felt unfair that the generation of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski had something to show for their considerable efforts and their consistency.

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Richard Jolly

Richard Jolly also writes for the National, the Guardian, the Observer, the Straits Times, the Independent, Sporting Life, Football 365 and the Blizzard. He has written for the FourFourTwo website since 2018 and for the magazine in the 1990s and the 2020s, but not in between. He has covered 1500+ games and remembers a disturbing number of the 0-0 draws.