It's tough to attain perfection in team sports
(Thomas Mueller 11, Miroslav Klose 23, Toni Kroos 24, 26, Sami Khedira 29, Andre Schuerrle 69, 79)
Sporting perfection is so rarely accomplished. Only the privileged few are invited to participate and the achievement is usually reserved for individuals.
Don Bradman, Muhammad Ali, Ayrton Senna, Martina Navratilova, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Usain Bolt were blessed with those moments where flawless fantasy became exceptional reality.
At the risk of sounding trite, a sporting pinnacle is easier to reach alone, when the skill and will of one sportsperson come together to defeat another.
The glory is no less worthy and its magnitude not diminished in any way, but it's essentially a one-man show.
Team sports are an entirely different animal. There are too many imponderables, possibilities and permutations to consider; too many moving body parts, too much room for human error.
It takes only one renegade BEAST to temper the collective BEAUTY. The apple doesn't need to be rotten, just a little sour to spoil the whole barrel.
Those striving for competitive purity must also take into account their opponents and external forces beyond their control; the officials, the climate, the crowd, the setting, the cynical foul and the offside flag.
Nature and nurture must combine simultaneously and conspire in favour of a team seeking to walk among the immortals.
That's why they can be counted on one hand in World Cup history. The magnificent Magyars, those boys from Brazil in 1970, the Dutch total footballers and maybe the Samba sons again in 1982, even if they shone only intermittently before fading out.
Those sides sustained their supremacy for an entire tournament - apart from Brazil in 1982 of course (the Dutch made it to the final). They all reached an intoxicating peak. For 90 scintillating, unforgettable minutes, Germany attained sporting perfection.
Only the World Cup final will prove if the game was an anomaly or a coup d'etat that marked the beginnings of an empire, but that's a debate for historians at a later date.
For now, we'll gladly take the brief peek behind the curtain at flawless football in its purest form.
Those Teutonic terriers not only gave this tournament its first truly classic game, but it also briefly gave viewers their childhood back. Their 7-1 demolition of Brazil was the idealised, prepubescent football of innocent youth.
Germany's stylish blend of technique and industry has already been played out a million times before, but on void-decks, streets, beaches and school-playgrounds.
Kids pull off such one-sided victories every day, racking up rugby scores by nutmegging imaginary markers and dribbling past invisible defenders (Germany did pretty much the same thing yesterday morning.)
German industry produced a spectacle that surpassed the most vivid imagination.
Eleven illusionists - plus Andre Schuerrle - conspired to turn a match into a myth. From Manuel Neuer to Miroslav Klose, Germany built four walls of noise in Belo Horizonte, creating a riotous racket that will reverberate for generations to come.
Neuer is already the greatest footballer in World Cup history to wear a pair of goalkeeping gloves. He maintains order in the penalty box like Sepp Maier and sweeps up like Franz Beckenbauer.
Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Philipp Lahm ruthlessly snapped the toothpicks posing as Brazilian attackers and if Benedikt Hoewedes falls short of their consistency generally, his performance in the semi-finals was faultless.
But Germany's super six are something else. Making a mockery of outdated coaching manuals, Joachim Loew leaves others to fixate on false No. 9s. They are false icons in a rapidly evolving environment where pace penetrates and swift counter-attacking is king.
In central midfield, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira were foaming pitbulls ripping the heads off children's dolls. They chewed up Fernandinho and spat his bloody remains across the centre circle.
Klose displayed intelligence greater than Brazil's entire back four in his scampering around the penalty box and Thomas Mueller thinks, reacts, runs, traps, turns and shoots quicker than any archaic coach still waffling on about the need for a No. 9.
And Toni Kroos controls everything else.
He doesn't play, he purrs. He glides gracefully and tackles ferociously. In the modern game, no other footballer encapsulates Ali's butterfly and bee qualities quite like Kroos.
He epitomises the new, near perfect Germany. Like Spain in 2008, Loew's men have matured splendidly, blending their traditional Teutonic qualities of ruthless finishing and tournament tenacity with the Bundesliga's recent emphasis on an attractive, rhythmic style.
And it came together in 90 outstanding minutes of near sporting perfection.
A fourth star must now be embroidered on their white jerseys for the Belo Horizonte classic to retain its significance, but even an unthinkable defeat in the final should not diminish its beauty.
The tournament got its masterpiece. And we got to be kids all over again.
THE NEAR-PERFECT 11
The Goalkeeper of the Tournament, the best in the world and probably the best sweeper-keeper in the world, Neuer has no discernible flaws.
Even though the match was over he still made terrific saves from Oscar and Paulinho and savaged his defence for conceding a last-minute goal.
Like Germany generally, he has improved as the tournament has progressed.
His pace pips Per Mertesacker and complements Mats Hummels' ruthless consistency.
The thinking fullback, Lahm reads the game effortlessly.
Within 15 minutes he had made it clear how foolish it was to pick him out as Germany's alleged weak link.
The Germany and Bayern Munich captain is not the quickest, but proves the late Ron Greenwood's maxim that the first two yards are in the brain.
The definitive German centre back, he has galvanised his side since recovering from a virus to face France.
One of the best players - at both ends - in the quarter-final, Hummels holds the defence together. Dependable and focused, he rarely makes a mistake.
It seems harsh, but Hoewedes is the player who stops this side from being a perfect 11.
Always aware that he's not playing in his natural position at left back, the converted centre half is reluctant to press forward as often as Lahm. But he is solid defensively and Brazil never bothered him.
Another performer who is excelling at the right time, Schweinsteiger has finally put his fitness woes behind him just in time for the final.
Loew deserves credit for retooling the German veteran's game slightly. His swashbuckling runs are less common, but he's a rock around the centre circle.
Yet again, fortune favours the brave. Whether it was well planned or just serendipity, Khedira's injury problems have left him at the right time.
He enjoyed his best performance against Brazil, dominating midfield, slaughtering Fernandinho, scoring one and assisting in another.
Kroos has made a late dash for Player of the Tournament in the knockout stages.
He played a key role in five of Germany's goals, stopped Brazil from going anywhere and never stopped running while making his game appear so easy and effortless. The perfect World Cup player.
Brazil might have obliged, but Oezil finally woke up in the semi-final.
He is often a victim of his own hype following his devastating World Cup introduction in 2010 and being played out of position doesn't help, but had a hand in two goals and his confidence is back for the final.
Who needs a No. 9 when you're blessed with the complete forward player.
His volleyed opener broke Brazilian backs and he was pivotal in the second and third goals. His off-the-ball running is quick and instinctive and his first touch always decisive. A nightmare for defenders.
The old warhorse refuses to go the knackers' yard quietly.
He broke Brazilian Ronaldo's record of 15 World Cup goals and was a permanent pest against Brazil, bending their centre backs out of shape.
Don't bet against him adding another in the final.
And just for good measure, the Germans are also blessed with the substitute of the tournament.
Andre Schuerrle has come off the bench a couple of times to positive effect and his superb brace against Brazil gives Germany coach Joachim Loew a healthy selection headache for the final.