They have three wins from three games but Germany coach Joachim Loew believes his team is lacking the killer instinct. Of course he was talking about his side falling short in putting the finishing touch to the chances being created. But he may as well have been talking about the team failing to put the finishing touch to impressive campaigns at major tournaments in the recent past.
Germany have emerged unscathed from their Group of death that claimed the Netherlands team and have impressed the most with their play at Euro 2012. But haven't they always in the recent major tournaments. They get off to a flying start, build on it with even more impressive victories and then stumble just when you start envisioning them holding the winner's trophy. Sadly for them, their stumbling block has been none other than Spain – the champions eliminated them in both Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup.
So if Germany are to win the title they have to find a way to crack the Spanish code. They already have the benefit of two added years of experience since the World Cup, which is necessary when it comes to the Germans given how young their team is. Striker Miroslav Klose, at 33, is their oldest player. The only other player in his 30s is reserve goalkeeper Tim Wiese (30) who will get a chance to show off his prowess between the posts only if Manuel Neuer suffers an injury or a suspension. Players like Thomas Muller, 22, and Mesut Ozil, 23, have graduated from players who in 2010 made the world take notice of their talent to players who are stars and regular features in the national team.
Spain, on the other hand, have been less impressive despite being in a relatively easier group. But considering that they started off their 2010 World Cup campaign with a 1-0 loss to Switzerland, only a fool would underestimate them and Germany is definitely not one of them. So do the Germans finally have it in them to not run out of gas before the finish line and find a way past the matadors?
One would think so and for many reasons. Firstly, the young German squad has matured. Secondly, they learnt their big lesson in the 2010 semi-final when Spain managed to completely shut them down and not give them space to attack or counter-attack, a scenario the coach must have prepared for better this time. Thirdly, after seeing them dominate for so long with their tiki-taka, some managers and teams have figured out better ways to deal with the Spanish challenge. And, lastly I just don't see Spain getting third time lucky. And it's not because I don't like them - I love watching them play - or that they are not good enough anymore – it's just a feeling that I have. But frankly I wouldn't trust the feeling too much as it does not even favour Germany – even though I would love to see the talented bunch winning something at last – it says it'll be the year of a dark horse winner.