Should Germany prevail against Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final on Sunday, within that triumph will lie another victory.
Lifting the Jules Rimet trophy will rightly take the spotlight, but, off to stage left, the deliverance of Joachim Löew will be a sub-plot worth noting.
If Germany do defeat Argentina, it will finally mean Löew has won over his many critics.
Why? It could be that the public find it hard to warm to Löew’s character, which is aloof and uncompromising, and has led to the marginalisaton of several players from Germany’s national team during his tenure. It did not take long after his appointment in 2006 for it to become clear that, behind the foppish Hugh Grant-like hair and Parisian-knotted scarves, there laid a calculating mind.
Many have also been unconvinced by Löew the coach and have regularly questioned his approach to tactics and selection.
Despite Löew possessing the best winning percentage of any Germany or West Germany coach, there lurks a sentiment for many that the team’s fine results under the 54-year-old, particularly in the past few years, have been down to the talent of his players rather than the coach himself.
That Löew did not play senior international football for Germany is also often held against him, with the Black Forest-born coach having had a modest playing career compared to many of his predecessors.
A pundit and former Norway international Jan Åge Fjørtoft told Al Jazeera the reason for the lack of faith Löew faced was simple: “Because he hasn't won a title”.
“In Germany, there is always someone who has made it better,” Fjørtoft continued, alluding to the West Germany teams that triumphed in 1954, 1974 and 1990.
Whatever the reason, those who regarded him unfit for duty at the head of Germany’s team considered Brazil a critical juncture in Löew’s trophyless eight-year tenure.
Germany arrived at the tournament possessing a squad packed with some of world football’s best talent. Even without the injured Marco Reus, a disappointing campaign in Brazil with many of Germany’s stars approaching their peak years was considered enough to spell the end of Löew’s tenure.
Doubts about Löew have remained during the World Cup, with German football legends Michael Ballack, Lothar Matthäus and Oliver Kahn among those openly questioning some of his decisions. Ballack in particular has seldom been a fan of the man who ultimately ended his international career, having criticised Löew as a player and in retirement.
With several unconvincing performances – effective as they ultimately were – sandwiched between the thumpings of Portugal and Brazil, the critics had no lack of ammunition for firing their broadsides.
But key decisions have paid off for Löew, and it could inevitably prove the difference as Germany strive for their first World Cup triumph as a unified country.
This could be Löew's breakthrough. No matter how good you are - how many silvers (silver medals ) - you have to be a world champ to reach the ultimate respect
The return of veteran Miroslav Klose to the starting-XI has proved a sound move. There have been moments in the forward’s two starts in Brazil – against France and then the hosts – when it was clear the 36-year-old did not have the pace and agility he once possessed, and he failed to see out 90 minutes in either match. But Klose’s presence added vital structure to Löew’s side, and he has scored twice in his fourth World Cup – making him the highest-scorer in the tournament’s history.
Moving captain Philipp Lahm from midfield back to defence was also timely. The Bayern Munich man has not been missed in the centre of the park, where Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos have formed an almost-flawless triumvirate.
Jerome Boateng and then Shkodran Mustafi were employed to negligible effect at right-back earlier in the tournament, so the composure and class of Lahm in the position in which he made his name was the cause of much relief around the country.
Amid all the criticism, however, Löew has always had backing where it counted. The German Football Association (DFB) have not wavered in their support of the former forward, while the strong rapport with his squad and coaching staff is clear.
That trust could be vindicated in the sweetest of ways come Sunday. If Löew has, in fact, given the critics any thought at all, Fjørtoft believes it has served “only to make him work harder”.
“This could be Löew's breakthrough. No matter how good you are - how many silvers (silver medals ) - you have to be a world champ to reach the ultimate respect,“ Fjørtoft said.
But this is Löew we are talking about here. Aloof and serious as he is, he has appeared to pay little mind to those critics. It is not inconceivable that Löew will give similarly scant attention to those who will sing his praises should Germany win the 2014 World Cup – no matter how much he may deserve them.
Source: Al Jazeera