It takes years for a fine wine to mature and the Germany team that ripped Brazil apart 7-1 in an astonishing World Cup semi-final has become a rare vintage with coach Joachim Loew finally getting the blend right.
On a day that rocked world football, Loew, in charge since 2006, managed to find the right mix of players, distilling what no doubt is the finest Germany team in decades.
He had reached at least the semi-finals in his four tournaments in charge but always seemed to be missing some ingredient that could help Germany take the last step towards ending their 18-year wait for a major trophy. (Also Read: Loew sorry for Scolari)
On Tuesday, Germany retained all the attributes that were so attractive in their youthful and exuberant 2010 World Cup squad that fell at the last four but infused it with the right dash of battle-hardened maturity.
“It’s something special what we’ve accomplished and what we can do,” said central defender Mats Hummels. “Obviously we’re going to do everything we can to fulfil that big dream we still have.” (Statistics: Brazil’s first since 1934)
They swept past the hosts in an awe-inspiring first half, which included four goals in six minutes, leaving tens of thousands of Brazilians speechless at the Mineirao stadium.
Millions across the host nation were also in complete shock on a day that will live in their collective memory for all the wrong reasons. (Analysis: German blend toast of the Cup)
Germany’s starting lineup included seven of the players who had featured in their 1-0 semi-final loss to Spain four years ago, and another two were on the bench on Tuesday.
In 2010 it was their youngest World Cup team in 76 years that grabbed the headlines, on Tuesday it was one of their finest ever.
The holding midfield partnership that shone so brightly in South Africa of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira was fully restored, operating flawlessly and having the added experience of four years of playing top football.
If Schweinsteiger, who turns 30 next month, ever dreamt of a game to prove he was back at his very best, especially after criticism for his performances at Euro 2012, this was it.
Khedira, who had torn a cruciate ligament in November, was doubtful for the tournament but Loew had insisted he was the only player in his team who was valuable even if not fully fit.
The 27-year-old proved him right, helping to set up them fourth goal with an unselfish continued…