Germany's Miroslav Klose (R) shakes hands with coach Joachim Loew after he was substituted during the team's 2014 World Cup quarter-finals against France at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 4, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
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History weighs heavily on the shoulders of football players from Germany, a country that latches on to the glory of its three World Cup titles with special reverence – in part due to a shortage of national heroes after its belligerent 20th century.Winning trophies, and especially the World Cup, is special in countries almost everywhere but for Germans the dreams, aspirations and identity of the entire nation are closely linked to their success – or failure – in the four-yearly tournament. The players on that 1954 team are revered in Germany and historians point to that world title nearly a decade after the end of World War II as marking the rebirth of West Germany and starting point for the country's postwar "economic miracle".Expectations are also so high because Loew's "golden generation" of players have reached at least the semifinals of the last four major tournaments in the last eight years – two World Cups and two European championships.
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