After weeks of German players, staff and officials hedging their bets and refusing to commit to a target at the World Cup, Lukas Podolski was the man to step forward.
“We have a strong team and we want to get out of this group and play a good World Cup,” he said. “We want to fight for the title.” Bang! Now everyone is awake. The winger left no room for interpretation in his interview with Arsenal’s website; the target is to win the tournament, and if not Germany will at least go down fighting.
Before Podolski’s statement of intent, members of the travelling party had even been talking about simply reaching the knockout phase after the group stages. If performances are good and progress beyond there does not materialise, fine; but to make that your ultimate target is just wrong.
As a three-time winning nation and the number two ranked country in the world, you can’t be satisfied simply with a place in the second round, even if the team plays well. If you finish in third place in two consecutive World Cups, the target must be reaching the semi-finals at least – the final, of course, would be even better.
Pressure can take its toll but the German players should be used to it. They should be able to handle it without issues. The team is experienced and talented, and can go far in Brazil – but they must accept that winning the whole thing should be the target.
Poldi finally did the right thing. He is one of the few to always be smiling. The German team can reach the final but they must recognise their own strength. So recognise it and shout it loud: we want to be the world champions!