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No ‘dream final’

Lahm & Co lament, Robben & Co rejoice

Philipp Lahm fought back the tears, and Bastian Schweinsteiger buried his face in his hands and knelt on the turf at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban for minutes on end. Germany’s dream of making the World Cup final was over. “Obviously, we’re gutted. It may be even worse in a few days’ time, when we appreciate what a huge chance we’ve missed,” said Schweinsteiger. “We’re deeply disappointed. You don’t often get the chance of making it through to the World Cup final,” agreed Lahm.

Twenty-four hours earlier, the world saw very different images and heard very different statements from Bayern players. Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben danced in front of their fans in Cape Town after the Elftal made the final for the third time. “We were determined to make the final again after a 32-year absence,” beamed Robben, “it’s unbelievable, a fantastic feeling.”

Three Bayern men in Jo’burg

The winger, who scored his second goal of the tournament in a 3-2 victory over Uruguay on Tuesday, was probably dismayed by Germany’s defeat to Spain the following day. Robben had spoken up in favour of a “dream final” against the Germans – a game which would have featured no fewer than eleven Bayern pros.

As it is, Robben, Van Bommel and Edson Braafheid are still involved in determining the destiny of the famous trophy. “I’m proud to be part of this team. We set ourselves a clear target two years ago. We all know why we’re here,” Van Bommel told The 33-year-old urgently desires success. “It’s my last World Cup, my last chance. I’m not going to miss this opportunity.”

Germany dismayed

The Germans were left to rue their missed chance. “We were aiming for more than the third-place play-off,” said Lahm. However, Germany fell short of the standards set in their previously thrilling displays. “We didn’t reproduce our form against England and Argentina,” said Schweinsteiger, “there’s no shame in losing to the best team in the world, but losing like that leaves a bitter taste.”