Germany coach Joachim Loew is edging closer to another tournament final that could make him the most successful German manager and cement his place among the very best in the history of world football.
The soft-spoken 56-year-old is a far cry from the stereotypical touchline-ranting coach. Style-conscious and fit, Loew is a meticulous planner and perfectionist who rarely loses his temper.
He is also known for sticking to his guns even when seemingly the entire population of soccer-mad Germany is questioning his choices, with his remarkably consistent achievements this past decade validating his decisions.
Loew, known also for his keen fashion sense and trademark tight V-neck sweaters, has now led his team to at least the semi-finals in every tournament they have played in since he took over after the 2006 World Cup.
He has also steered Germany to the 2014 World Cup title their fourth and victory at the Euro 2016 in France would see him become only the second German manager to have won both titles, after Helmut Schoen.
Loew’s record stands at 136 matches with 90 wins and 22 defeats, slightly better than Schoen’s 87 wins and 21 losses from 139 matches.
The late Schoen won the 1972 Euros before clinching the 1974 World Cup with what was then West Germany.
Some may also argue that Spain’s Vicente Del Bosque, who resigned after their tournament elimination by Italy, has a better record in an even shorter time, having won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
But Spain went out of the 2014 World Cup in the group stages while also limped out Euro 2016 after making little impact.
No other coach has shown this kind of consistency and even if Loew’s Germany fail to move past hosts France in their semi-final on Thursday, his track record remains sparkling, having also reached the Euro 2008 final, the 2010 World Cup last four and the 2012 Euro semi-finals.
“He is very confident,” said attacking midfielder Thomas Mueller. “He knows how well the team works in training and that creates trust.”
Mueller is one of the many players Loew has called up through the years, and was a newcomer in his 2010 World Cup team — the youngest Germany team in 76 years at the time, that crushed Argentina and England en route to the semi-finals.
“He has been here 12 years (including as assistant coach from 2004-6). He also has a success story to show for his time with us and that brings with it calmness. We are well taken care of with Loew.”