The Germans were undoubtedly the best overall team across the tournament, and there will not be any observers begrudging a first major tournament win since 1996.
Their displays were marked by consistently dynamic, ambitious attacking play supported by dominant, focused and organized defensive structure
Arsenal fans will be delighted with the success for three key stars, Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski, but how will it affect them?
The former, playmaker and the Gunners’ record signing, Ozil played 119 minutes before being replaced by his Arsenal teammate Mertesacker in the dying stages of extra time after Mario Gotze’s wonder-strike separated the Germans from Argentina. Lukas Podolski was an unused substitute but seemed to enjoy the occasion, even celebrating with German Prime Minister Angela Merkel.
Ozil has received a lot of criticism in the last 12 months – first he came under pressure at Real Madrid and with incoming signings at the Bernabeu his place in the team was uncertain, leading to his move to the Emirates. His £42.5 million price tag made him the most expensive German player in history and although he started well in the Premier League, he was inconsistent for much of the campaign.
The 25-year-old had been booed in the World Cup qualifiers and friendlies and taken a lot of heat from German fans for his again inconsistent performances whilst his displays at the World Cup this summer were low key. However, he returns to England a World Cup winner and that, as they say, is that. Perhaps now, after winning the FA Cup in May, and the World Cup in July, he can head into next season with renewed confidence.
Arsene Wenger has said on occasion, that Ozil is a player very sensitive to criticism and very much a perfectionist who berates himself for mistakes so to take so much criticism (oftentimes unfairly levelled at him). In the last year, to respond to such a drastic change of environments from Madrid to London to Brazil and not have the full faith of the fans must have been exhausting mentally for a player such as him.
Having the continued support of his national team coach Joachim Lowe (who kept him in the side, despite his poor form) and his club manager Arsene Wenger will come as a massive stabiliser for him and returning as a world champion to London Colney will likely give him the confidence which is so key to his character and creativity.
Moving on to Mertesacker, the German will likely have played his last World Cup. Now 29 years of age, he played only injury time of the Final at the Maracana and has already effectively been ousted from the German backline by the younger Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, both of whom performed well across the tournament.
The 6ft6” centre back made six appearances across the World Cup and performed well when he was called upon and it caps off nicely a very solid and defining season with Arsenal. He has been one of the Gunners most important players, and most consistent and is a strong leader in the team on the pitch and in the dressing room so to return to London as a winner will only improve the impact he can have on the team. This applies especially the younger players like Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry and Joel Campbell.
Young players, all players in fact, respond to senior players who have the experience and leadership but the best experience of all is having been there and won the lot and that is what Mertesacker can now say. I should think he will at some point become Arsenal captain whether this term or next and one would be hard pushed to think of a player better suited to that role.
As for Podolski, it’s likely to have been a mixed bag for him in Brazil. The forward was previously a regular starter in the team and was one of the main stars at the previous World Cup in 2010 in South Africa, he has over 100 caps but managed to get just two run outs as a substitute in this tournament, having been ousted by the likes of Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller in recent years.
This emulates his periphery at Arsenal where was frustrated last term by his lack of starts and first team opportunities at the Emirates where Arsene Wenger clearly doesn’t see him as a key player, despite some match-winning performances and goals in his two seasons in England. With the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, that lack of opportunity will only get worse, he may only have one or two seasons at the Gunners left in him. The tournament success however may encourage him to stick it out in a pursuit to win more trophies.