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Title ends decade-long project for Germany

  • Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates with the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

    Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates with the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

  • Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates with the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

    Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates with the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

  • Germany's head coach Joachim Loew celebrates after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

    Germany's head coach Joachim Loew celebrates after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

  • Germany's head coach Joachim Loew celebrates after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

    Germany's head coach Joachim Loew celebrates after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

  • Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger and Germany's head coach Joachim Loew embrace after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0 (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

    Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger and Germany's head coach Joachim Loew embrace after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0 (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

  • Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger and Germany's head coach Joachim Loew embrace after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0 (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

    Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger and Germany's head coach Joachim Loew embrace after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0 (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

  • Photo provided by Germany soccer federation DFB shows Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger, right, and his girl friend Sarah Brandner as they attend the party of the German soccer federation after Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the soccer World Cup final to win its fourth title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/DFB, Markus Gilliar, pool)

    Photo provided by Germany soccer federation DFB shows Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger, right, and his girl friend Sarah Brandner as they attend the party of the German soccer federation after Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the soccer World Cup final to win its fourth title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/DFB, Markus Gilliar, pool)

  • Photo provided by Germany soccer federation DFB shows Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger, right, and his girl friend Sarah Brandner as they attend the party of the German soccer federation after Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the soccer World Cup final to win its fourth title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/DFB, Markus Gilliar, pool)

    Photo provided by Germany soccer federation DFB shows Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger, right, and his girl friend Sarah Brandner as they attend the party of the German soccer federation after Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the soccer World Cup final to win its fourth title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/DFB, Markus Gilliar, pool)

  • Photo provided by Germany soccer federation DFB shows Germany's Mario Goetze with the trophy during the party of the German soccer federation after Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the soccer World Cup final to win its fourth title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/DFB, Markus Gilliar, pool)

    Photo provided by Germany soccer federation DFB shows Germany's Mario Goetze with the trophy during the party of the German soccer federation after Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the soccer World Cup final to win its fourth title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/DFB, Markus Gilliar, pool)

  • Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates with the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
  • Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates with the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
  • Germany's head coach Joachim Loew celebrates after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
  • Germany's head coach Joachim Loew celebrates after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
  • Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger and Germany's head coach Joachim Loew embrace after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0 (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
  • Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger and Germany's head coach Joachim Loew embrace after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0 (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
  • Photo provided by Germany soccer federation DFB shows Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger, right, and his girl friend Sarah Brandner as they attend the party of the German soccer federation after Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the soccer World Cup final to win its fourth title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/DFB, Markus Gilliar, pool)
  • Photo provided by Germany soccer federation DFB shows Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger, right, and his girl friend Sarah Brandner as they attend the party of the German soccer federation after Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the soccer World Cup final to win its fourth title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/DFB, Markus Gilliar, pool)
  • Photo provided by Germany soccer federation DFB shows Germany's Mario Goetze with the trophy during the party of the German soccer federation after Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the soccer World Cup final to win its fourth title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/DFB, Markus Gilliar, pool)

RIO DE JANEIRO — The World Cup title for Joachim Loew and his “golden generation” crowned a process that was 10 years in the making. With a talented crop of new players coming through, the future looks bright for Germany.

The 1-0 victory over Argentina at the Maracana that gave Germany its fourth title and made it the first European team to win the championship on South American soil completed a circle for Loew that began in 2004, when he became Juergen Klinsmann’s assistant.

The two friends began plotting how to bring the title back to Germany and rejuvenated the team, creating an attacking, entertaining style that pleased the eye and promised success.

Germany fell short at home in 2006, finishing third, and Klinsmann stepped down to leave Loew in charge. Loew’s team reached the final of Euro 2008, finished third again at the 2010 World Cup and was a semifinalist at Euro 2012. With doubts growing whether Loew’s Germany could ever become a champion, the team pulled off the historic run in Brazil, including a stunning 7-1 victory over the host in the semifinal.

“It was time,” Loew said after the final. “It’s the product of many years of work. And it’s something for eternity.”

A meticulous planner who leaves little to chance, Loew made risky decisions that turned out right. He gave key midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger time to slowly nurse himself back into the team after a series of injuries and Schweinsteiger was one of the heroes of the final. Loew reshuffled the defense when needed and returned his only true striker, Miroslav Klose, to the starting line-up.

“The coach has really deserved the title,” Schweinsteiger said. “He managed to keep all players happy and that’s incredible, to his credit. He really had the entire team behind him.”

Forward Thomas Mueller, who led the team with five goals, said he was pleased for Loew.

“I am happy for the coach, because he was always in the final or semifinal in recent years,” Mueller said.

Midfielder Toni Kroos said the team trusted Loew and his decisions.

“We knew from day one that he has good vision and a very good feeling about whom and how to play,” Kroos said. “He knew exactly what he was doing and had confidence in us.”

As Germany returns home to celebrate the title with thousands of fans in Berlin, Loew might be contemplating his future. His contract runs through Euro 2018 and he has indicated he intends to stay on.

“We’ve been working for years on our own style. This title will be a shot in the arm for the future. We have players who are still very young and not many players over 30,” Loew said.

“As for Klose, you never know, you can expect anything from him,” Loew said of the 36-year-old striker. Klose has been noncommittal on his future.

Mario Goetze, who scored the match winner in the final with superb control and technique, is 22 and at the start of a promising career. Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan missed the tournament with injuries but will be back. Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Andre Schuerrle and Sami Khedira are all young, while Schweinsteiger and captain Philipp Lahm are still 30 or younger despite being in the team for 10 years or more.

“We have young players who can still achieve something in their careers,” Loew said.

Argentina team welcomed home

Argentina’s national team was welcomed home Monday by thousands of fans celebrating its gutsy performance in the World Cup final.

The team arrived in Buenos Aires on a plane painted with images of the players and a large sign reading: “Thank you Argentina.”

A river of emotional fans wearing the white and sky-blue striped jerseys of the national team, among them a group of Argentine gauchos on horses, flooded the road leading from the airport to the football association complex.

“You showed that through courage, passion and bringing everything you have and more to the field you can triumph,” Fernandez said after greeting all members of the team at the complex with a hug and a pat on the back.

“You’ve given us values that Argentines, surrounded by so much triumphalism, thought were lost. Not only does the one in first place win; you also win when you show quality and manage to unite with others to go forward,” Fernandez said. “That’s why I wanted to greet you today and thank you on behalf of 40 million proud Argentines.”

The two-time world champion entered the title match as the clear underdog after Germany’s 7-1 thrashing of host Brazil. But despite complaints about lackluster play earlier in the tournament, the team led by captain Lionel Messi showed grit throughout the 1-0 overtime loss to Germany, creating several opportunities to score in the first 90 minutes.

“I’m thankful to everyone. I would have liked to bring you back the Cup and to be able to enjoy it. We tried, we gave it our all but we couldn’t achieve it,” said Messi, who won the trophy for the tournament’s best player.

“Despite that, I think we gave a great joy to the country by reaching this final and facing our rivals without giving anything away.”

Argentina last played in a World Cup final in 1990, when it lost to West Germany. Four years earlier, it became world champion for the second time, led by captain Diego Maradona, also in a final against the Germans.

After Sunday’s final, thousands of saddened but proud Argentines gathered peacefully at the iconic Obelisk in downtown Buenos Aires to applaud their team’s best World Cup performance in 24 years. Cars honked staccato rhythms, firecrackers were tossed into the air and fans of all ages jumped in place shouting, “Argentina! Argentina! Argentina!”

“We have nothing to regret, we played first rate,” said 53-year-old Horacio Laseiras, carrying his 6-year-old daughter on his shoulders.

Violence broke out later Sunday night, forcing riot police to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse vandals who threw rocks, destroyed store fronts, tore down street lights and even broke into a theater. Parents with small children fled in fear.

National security secretary Sergio Berni said 120 people were arrested. The Buenos Aires emergency medical service reported on Monday that 70 people were treated for injuries, including 15 police officers.

The shot at the title united Argentines otherwise exasperated by one of the world’s highest inflation rates, an encroaching debt crisis and a corruption scandal that has penetrated deep into President Cristina Fernandez’s inner circle.

Fernandez, whose approval rating has plunged in recent months, kept a low profile during the tournament. She declined an invitation to attend the final, preferring instead to rest ahead of a summit today, also in Brazil, with leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China.

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