This quality and consistency is true for the nation’s teams either side of the gender divide – Germany are the only country who can boast winners of both the women’s and men’s World Cups, claiming six global titles overall.
Germany’s triumphs have spanned half a century, taken place on four continents and left an innumerable line of defeated opponents in their wake. But, while they are all obviously extraordinary feats, some are more fondly remembered than others.
6. Switzerland 1954
The Miracle of Bern ?
In 1954, West Germany pulled off one of the biggest upsets in #WorldCup history, with a little help from their boots ????
Full video ? https://t.co/N0cfDcws7R pic.twitter.com/kFDzwTK1Rz
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) May 26, 2018
The final of the 1954 World Cup began as most expected it to go. Hungary’s Aranycsapat (Golden Team) went 2-0 up (as they had in every previous game at the tournament) inside ten minutes. Only two weeks before the match, West Germany had lost 8-3 to this glorious Hungary side – spearheaded by the legendary Ferenc Puskás.
In the final, West Germany hauled their opponents level before Helmut Rahn got his second of the game and his side’s third, which would eventually settle the match and end Hungary’s four-year unbeaten run.
However, there are some surrounding factors which cast a shadow over the victory.
Hungary controversially had a goal ruled out for offside, scored by a limping Puskás. Suspiciously, he had sustained the injury during the nations’ group stage encounter. Add in the Swiss band’s less than soothing rendition outside the Hungary’s hotel the night before the final and everything that could have gone wrong for this great side did.
5. West Germany 1974
West Germany’s captain Franz Beckenbauer collects the 1974 World Cup trophy after defeating the Netherlands
20 years later and West Germany again took on the role of denying the side of the aesthetes as Johan Cruyff’s ‘Total Football’ Netherlands had the golden trophy snatched away from them.
While the Dutch and their high-pressing, engrossing football took many of the plaudits, West Germany weren’t lacking in talent themselves. With Franz Beckenbauer the last line of defence and first wave of attack at sweeper and Gerd Müller’s goal-scoring prowess up front, the host nation could point to two of the game’s greats themselves.
However, the significant detractor of this title came in the first group stage, when the eventual champions lost 1-0 to East Germany – the only competitive meeting between the two German states.
4. Brazil 2014
Germany’s World Cup winning captain Philipp Lahm (left centre) celebrates alongside his Bayern Munich teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger (right centre)
The abiding memory of this particular triumph unquestionably lies in their semi-final demolition of hosts Brazil. For that evisceration alone, their 2014 campaign will forever be seared into the fabric of football’s ultimate prize.
Joachim Löw’s side played inventive, expansive football based on the strength of the collective, rather than one particular individual.
3. USA 2003
Germany’s Bettina Wiegmann leads the celebrations after clinching the nation’s first Women’s World Cup
Birgit Prinz may have claimed the tournament’s Golden Ball and Golden Boot but it would be her teammate, Nia Künzer, who scored the golden goal in the 2003 final against Sweden – so far the only World Cup to be decided by this gimmick.
The significance of this victory is heightened by the setting of Germany’s triumph – Carson, USA. In the first three editions of the competition leading up to 2003, America’s women’s side had won two titles and finished third in the other.
They were the side to beat and on home soil Germany had a mountainous obstacle to overcome in the semi-final. But they prevailed, ultimately reaching the showpiece by a slightly flattering 3-0 scoreline (two of their goals were netted after 90 minutes).
In the final Germany went one better than eight years previously, winning 2-1 with Künzer’s crucial goal, just ten minutes after being subbed on.
2. Italy 1990
Lothar Matthäus revels in victory after claiming the 1990 World Cup at Argentina’s expense
In a tournament wistfully remembered through rose-tinted glasses on these shores, the low scoring and largely drab nature of the 1990 World Cup – and in particular, the dreary spectacle in the final – has gone some way to lessening the gloss of Germany’s triumph.
But that West Germany squad – for the last tournament they would contest under that moniker – was far and away the best team at the finals. Of the players in the Ballon d’Or’s top ten that year, Germany could point to no fewer than four among their ranks.
1. China 2007
Germany become the first nation to win consecutive Women’s World Cups after defeating Brazil in 2007
Simply put, this Germany side were unbeatable. Or rather, Nadine Angerer was unbeatable. In 540 minutes of action at the pinnacle of world football, Germany – with a rearguard strictly marshalled by goalkeeper Angerer – didn’t concede a single goal.
This parsimonious run suffered its greatest threat when Germany gave up a penalty in the final against a Brazil side led by the wonderfully talented Marta. But the 2007 World Player of the Year saw her spot kick saved by Angerer to deny Brazil an equaliser.
Simone Laudehr wrapped up the win in the final five minutes and Germany held on to become the first nation to successfully defend the women’s World Cup.