Loew's tactics see Germany oust France 1-0
Dropping Goetze and starting with Klose pegged back the French as German defence nullifies Les Bleus' attack
(Mats Hummels 13)
Sitting behind a long table in his designer T-shirt, Joachim Loew could have passed for Simon Cowell this morning (Singapore time).
He might have been forgiven for borrowing the Englishman's smugness.
For a week, the German media have sat in judgment on their national coach, ready to vote him off.
But Loew had the X-factor inside the Maracana. He saw off the French and silenced his critics with a coaching masterclass.
Juergen Klinsmann's former understudy has been accused in the past of trying too hard to escape the shadow of his charismatic predecessor.
His tactical obstinacy bordered on dogma. He refused to bend to the will of the people. He knew better.
According to his critics, his vanity threatened to consume him.
Loew had picked centre backs across his back four, shoved one of the world's most intelligent, intuitive right backs into midfield, pushed Mesut Oezil into the wrong position and persevered with a meandering Mario Goetze.
The hangman's spectre loomed large within the bowels of the Maracana. Loew had been given enough rope. Sixty years to the day since the old West Germany conjured the Wonder of Berne, their woeful coach was about to slip through his own trapdoor.
As always, Loew had other ideas. He is neither perturbed by polarising opinion nor shaped by simmering dissent.
Four consecutive semi-finals at major tournaments might suggest he knows what he's doing after all.
Cough medicine proved to be the key.
Once Man-of-the-Match Mats Hummels confirmed to medical staff that the ticklish throat and the feverish symptoms had finally subsided, Loew was permitted to throw a spanner into his works.
Despite excitable claims to the contrary, France and Germany were never likely to produce a goal-fest to rival the earliest games in the tournament's groups stages (which are beginning to slip from the memory).
Too much was at stake and the European sides were too familiar with each other tactically to pull any rabbits from the hats; even in such a fine football theatre. A close contest loomed, so Loew took a blowtorch to his backline.
Ghana, the United States and Algeria slipped through an occasionally porous defence, convincing the coach to drop popular dressing-room character Per Mertesacker, recall Hummels and put the brakes on Philipp Lahm.
Karim Benzema was denied the space generously granted to the grateful Algerians.
But it's the dropping of Goetze that caught the eye. A Bundesliga darling, the Bayern Munich midfielder is one of the faces of German football; a polished, shiny product of their golden generation.
Benching Goetze is on a par with resting Wayne Rooney. The move measures on the superstar Richter scale; it's a potential earthquake for uncertain coaches.
Rooney was never going anywhere under Roy Hodgson except on an early plane home to London. But Goetze was out. Loew judges players on their latest performance rather than their latest PlayStation game covers.
The cult of celebrity never compromises the German collective. Loew couldn't care less about reputation. He isn't swayed by sentimentality either.
Miroslav Klose's recall had nothing to do with the ageing striker's flirting with sweet 16. Scoring records count only if they confirm Germany's safe passage to the final four.
Klose's personal ambition of overtaking Ronaldo mattered less than his ability to overtake the French back four.
Klose didn't score, but the extra man at the top of the German diamond allowed Toni Kroos to wander around midfield like he was on a tourist's tour of the Maracana.
Poor Patrice Evra had to contend with Lahm, Thomas Mueller and Klose drifting over to his side.
Blaise Matuidi was unable to command midfield with his usual assured authority, while Kroos and Klose continued to drag his teammates out of position.
Germany's set-piece goal inevitably resulted from another onslaught along the left. Kroos eventually crossed for Hummels to nod in the winner; the two men who arguably profited most from Loew's radical rethink.
The coach had ample opportunity to gloat in the press conference, but he wisely refrained. He leaves that sort of thing to Louis van Gaal.
Loew shares Cowell's wardrobe, but not his ego.
But Die Mannschaft's decisive victory vindicated their coach, for now at least.
Loew has bought himself some time. He has also found a winning formula.
I wanted Klose up front so Mueller could play wide and keep the French fullbacks busy.
- Germany coach Joachim Loew on starting with Miroslav Klose
1: Germany scored with their first shot on target and then hit only two more in the rest of the match.
10: Germany are in their 10th World Cup semi-final in 13 tournaments since 1966. They have gone on to make the final in six of them.