As we settle back over the holidays and watch the pictures of the numerous annual reviews, memories of a grandiose summer come sweeping back.
For six weeks the country trembled, hoped and feared, until the final whistle on the wonderful evening of July 13 in Rio de Janeiro.
There were many German football heroes born that night in the World Cup final against Argentina. Most notably match-winner Mario Götze, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and the indestructible Bastian Schweinsteiger
Germany has had to wait for 24 years for this fourth World Cup title, and until the 7: 1 semi-final win over the Brazilian hosts the skeptics had been in the majority – Germany were not good enough to win. Now, however, German football looks back on a magnificent year ago with a national team which has far from reached its zenith.
And so back to the Bundesliga, arguably the strongest league economically in the world with the best stadiums and the highest attendances. As if to confirm German dominance, for the first time all four Champions League participants and both Europa League group stage starters have qualified for the knockout rounds of the European club competition. It is fitting that at the World Football Gala FIFA in Zurich on January 12, competing in each of the four individual award categories (male and female player, coach, trainer of the year) Germans have a good chance of winning.
But will 2015 start in the blaze of glory that was 2014. It seems unlikely, to the skeptics at least, as it seems the end of the evening at the Kongresshaus will see defeat in the most important category of all where Manuel Neuer is by far the underdog in the Ballon d’Or against Cristiano Ronaldo.
And even in the knockout stages of the Champions League, the Bundesliga quartet could shrink to a single club – FC Bayern Munich.
Germany’s record champion is the only club who realistically sits at eye-level with the top European teams. Last season the team from Bavaria, with Götze and Schweinsteiger in their pre-World Cup prime, had no chance against Real Madrid with Ronaldo in the semi-finals and were eliminated 5-0 over the two matches.
And even the national team, after the worst start in their qualification history, face a difficult year ahead to qualify for Euro 2016.
After the great 2014 the next challenges are already at the door. Because in football the successes of the past are in the here and now, nothing more. There are plenty of examples, you just have to look to Spain and coach Vicente del Bosque.
Martin Volkmar is a member of the Editorial Board of leading German sports channel SPORT1 and Head of the Online Desk (www.sport1.de). He has covered, among others, two World cups, two European Championships and four Champions League finals..