BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany coach Joachim Loew knows there is much more at stake at the World Cup than simply ending his country’s 18-year title drought in a major competition.
The finals in Brazil could represent the softly-spoken 54-year-old’s last chance to lift a trophy with the national team, despite having a contract until 2016.
With a superb record of 70 victories and 15 defeats in 102 internationals, Loew has a better win-loss ratio than any of his predecessors dating back to 1978.
They include Franz Beckenbauer, who led the team to the 1990 World Cup crown, and Berti Vogts, in charge for their most recent major trophy at Euro 96.
Loew has steered his side into two semi-finals and one final in his three tournaments in charge, but patience among the success-spoilt German fans is starting to run out.
“I wish our team could get some more recognition for playing this creative and attacking football,” said Loew who does not want to go down as the most successful Germany coach never to have won a title.
Meticulous in his planning and detailed in his tactics, Loew has instilled an attacking gene in Germany who want to become the first European team to lift the trophy in a World Cup held in South America.
Since taking over from Juergen Klinsmann in 2006, he has introduced a long list of young players including Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer, Mario Goetze and Marco Reus and won over fans worldwide with an exciting, fast-paced attacking style.
But the prevailing sense of urgency is not lost on him. Loew told his players in March that anyone found slacking in the last months of the season, however important they were for the team, would not be travelling to Brazil.
“In those conditions, that heat and humidity, we can only use players who are 100 percent fit,” he said.
“History shows you that if you want to win the title you have to have top, fit players. That was the case in 1974 and 1990,” he said in reference to the two most recent World Cup victories as West Germany.
“We have a lot of players who are part of the squad but who are not in the rhythm at the moment.”
Success in Brazil would give Loew a place among the pantheon of German greats while failure could reduce him to a mere footnote on the list of coaches - despite his winning record.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Tony Jimenez and Mike Collett