The month-long saga of Germany World Cup 2006 has reached its final chapter after the closing of the third-place tournament last night. Germany had a 3-1 victory against the Portuguese, although it was irritating and unfortunate for me to have missed the goals in the second half due to technical problems of online television - DARN!
Although Germany did not win the FIFA World Cup as many fans and fellow nationals might have hoped, few would disagree that the coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the former German striker who was part of the last football legend of his country, was the man who made what Germany achieved this year possible. It was not surprising to learn that 93 per cent of football fans in Germany told an opinion poll that they would like Klinsmann to stay as the national team coach. It was reported today that the German players and newspapers have also launched various forms of petition to persuade their hero.
Football is a ruthlessly result-oriented game. Heroes are created when they bring their teams to victory, by whatever means - remember the dramatic anecdote of "the Hand of God" in Mexico World Cup 1986 and the awesome defeat of Brazil by the French under the miraculous leadership of Zinedine Zidane in 1998 and 2006? At times it seems that the success of a national team comes from nothing but the magic powers of a wizard, who disguises himself as the team leader who is capable of motivating his team mates to drive to their limits with incredible persona and skills.
Few had any hope of seeing what the German national team has achieved today, if they were the minority who refrained from criticising Klinsmann in the first instance for recruiting mostly inexperienced players in the squad. Nevertheless, Klinsmann made history by transforming the German national team by replacing the traditional and somewhat defensive freeman form with an aggressive strategy that puts great emphasis on the strikers. Radical reforms like this requires an incredible amount of courage and determination, and it was by all means inspiring and relieving to see Klinsmann has proved himself right with such remarkable results that so many his early opponents have now converted to stand by him.
Despite their victory against the Portuguese last night, however, the German team still needs to work hard on various fronts to sharpen their football skills before they could take German football further ahead. For example, while Bastian Schweinsteiger was unquestionably instrumental to Germany's three winning goals last night, his overall performance in this World Cup was far from being satisfactory. A lack of experience combined with an absence of all-rounded football skills in the 22-year-old midfielder was obvious. While there is no shortcut to the accumulation of experience, the sharpening of personal skills seems much more urgent if Schweinsteiger would like to make it big in the future.
Another example would be Lukas Podolski, who has just been elected the Best Young Player in this World Cup. To be honest, I don't find him as impressive as many people out there think him might be. He has a pretty good sense of attack, though not as strong as his more experienced team mate Miroslav Klose, but he doesn't have the essential skills to make goals happen as frequently as he wants. All Podolski can rely on is his left leg, and he doesn't seem to have good headers - a long-recognised advantage of German footballers. We have seen so many chances being annoyingly passed out due to a regretful inadequacy of football skills, and I do hope that Poland-born Podolski would not sit on his premature award but work even harder to prove me wrong in his future appearances.