Germany's national soccer team failed to bring home the European championship title after losing the final to Spain 0-1. That's just fine, says DW's Stefan Nestler.
The tournament's best team is European champion. Enough said. The Spanish have overcome their tournament trauma and have finally been rewarded for their fascinating soccer. They were the strongest of all 16 teams. They offered refreshing, modern offensive soccer at the highest technical level. They did so not just in a couple of matches, but throughout the entire tournament.
The Spanish were simply too much to handle for the German team. In fact, the defeat should have been much clearer. Apart from 15 good minutes at the beginning, Ballack and Co. were completely disappointing.
From a German point of view, the final was almost a logical end to the past three weeks.
The "mountain tour" ended up in several valleys before getting stuck just below the summit. A promising start against Poland was followed by an unacceptable defeat against Croatia. A rather weak Austria helped to build up the Germans, who outdid themselves in the quarter-final match against Portugal, one of the tournament favorites.
In the semi-final, Germany shrank back to a team that made the most out of very little. It clearly wasn't enough to surprise, let along defeat the outstanding Spanish.
What's true for the team is also true for individual players. No one was constantly good and all had their weak moments. Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann fluttered more than the ball up to the semi-final. Defender Christoph Metzelder's beard might have grown during the tournament, but he didn't get any faster. Per Mertesacker also seemed too slow too many times. Midfielder Michael Ballack was not at his best in several games, including the final. People should be able to expect more of a top player than that.
Germany's much-praised strikers, Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez, didn't manage to achieve much. The only ones that fulfilled expectations -- at least to some extent -- were Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Philipp Lahm. But even they didn't shine.
Germany's reaching the final should not cover up the fact that the German team is able to do much more than it showed during Euro 2008. The team should focus on strengths that have been developed in recent years: to base attacks with quick combination moves on a sound defense and close the deal decisively.
The Spanish played like this in the final. The Germans didn't.
Stefan Nestler covers sports for DW-RADIO (win)