Joachim Low insists he had no choice but to leave flu-ridden Miroslav Klose out of the third-place play-off with Uruguay.
Klose, 32, had every chance of setting a new World Cup scoring record having netted four times for Germany who, so far, remain the highest scoring team in the tournament.
But his chances were dashed when he was dropped from the starting line-up on Saturday evening through illness.
He now looks unlikely to better Brazilian Ronaldo's record of 15 goals, with age very much going against him.
A tough call
Low admits it was a difficult decision to make but insists he had Germany's best interests at heart.
"We needed 100 per cent from everyone so we couldn't afford to use players who are not fit," he said.
"This is why we didn't field ill or injured players. It would have been irresponsible. He simply couldn't play, he failed the fitness test."
Klose was said to be devastated to miss out but he understood Low's predicament.
The German coach added: "He wanted to play but he said there was no point because he could only play a few minutes.
"He could hardly walk. There was no way I could have played him."
He did empathise with Klose's situation saying: "Just imagine his feeling. You want to get a record.
"He really wanted to play and was absolutely devastated but he knew it was the team that was important."
Germany's youth appeared key to their achievements in the tournament, in particular against England and Argentina.
Low's talented squad ran both sides ragged in the knock-out stages before crashing to defeat against Spain at the semi-final stage.
They fell behind against Uruguay on Saturday but rallied superbly well to see out a third-place finish for the second time running at the World Cup.