Experimenting and winning, Germany’s wonderful year towards Russia 2018

Two titles in 48 hours.

From 30th June to 2nd July 2017 German national sides won U-21 European Championship in Poland and Confederations Cup in Russia. This double summer triumph confirms German national teams’ good moment: in 2017 A-Nationalmannschaft coached by Joachim Löw booked their 2018 World Cup ticket, remained undefeated (11 wins and three draws in the last 12 months) and closed the year at the top of the FIFA ranking.

Stunning results if you think that 2017 has been a year marked by Löw’s football experimentation, not only at Confederations Cup.

It was a strange summer, not many players wanted to play in Russia, the national team coach built a brand new group. Media and fans were quite sceptical, but they won,

says German journalist Raphael Honigstein.

Germany lifted their first Confederations Cup ever thanks to a young squad, almost completely formed by players born in the 90s (only two exceptions: 30-year-old Sandro Wagner and 29-year-old Borussia Mönchengladbach striker Lars Stindl) amassing few appearances with A-national side. An example? The most capped player was team captain Julian Draxler, with 24 games. Twenty-three footballers, many of them like Leon Goretzka or Timo Werner, eligible also for U-21, coached and managed in a very intelligent way by Joachim Löw. “Jogi’s work isn’t good only in terms of results, his best skill is to choose the right players for each games, putting them in the right position,” former Bayer Leverkusen and German legendary striker Ulf Kirsten tells MondoFutbol.

“You work on fitness and technique in your club, while during national team’s training sessions you adjust the details. Tactically speaking Löw has been able to build a complete team, one that strikes you for the way it plays, regardless of the team members,” the sixth most-prolific striker in Bundesliga Kirsten adds.

Thanks to Germany national side long-term football project Löw made several footballers improve during the last two years, as they played alongside stars like Mats Hummels and Toni Kroos. “In my opinion the most improved players are Emre Can, Sebastian Rudy, Leroy Sané and especially Joshua Kimmich,” explains Honigstein, who has recently published a book on Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp (Klopp: Bring the noise).

This continuous turnover is possible not only due to Löw squad’s depth.

If you make a comparison, it’s just a matter of hardware and software. Players are hardware, coaches are software, both formed in a innovative way,

Honigstein says.

In these two aspects German Football Federation has invested so much, rebooting the local movement and generating a new golden era of Fussball marked by a peculiar style of play. “Our stunning 2017 is the result of club and Federation’s good work on youth players. It’s been a long way, it hasn’t been easy and we need time to see the fruits,” Ulf Kirsten explains. According to Honigstein trained coaches play a decisive role in German football’s rise. “If you have trained coaches, able to work in a innovative way, youngsters improve more and quicker”.

This kind of football policy based on federal youth academies, common technical guidelines and collaboration between clubs and national sides, could assure the present (“Footballers born in 1994, 1995 and 1996 are first ones completely formed after German reboot,” tells Honigstein) and maybe the future of Fussball.

However the near future for German national side is the 2018 World Cup.

Löw’s team would want to be the third team in history to win two World Cup titles in a row and in order to achieve this historic result the Nationalmanschaft should fix their weaknesses, shown in the 2018 WC qualifying match against Czech Republic in Prague and in the two friendlies versus England and France. “I wouldn’t be worried, in November some important players weren’t on the pitch and Löw experimented a lot”, tells Kirsten. “In my opinion we always think that our problems are worst than the others’,” says Honigstein. “Our main doubts regard the left backs and the holding midfielder position”, the German reporter adds. Number 9 position doesn’t seem to be a rebus anymore, as it happened at 2016 Euro championships after Mario Gómez‘s injury during the knockout stage. “In the last tournaments we could line up only two big names like Miroslav Klose and Thomas Müller, now we have Müller, Wagner, Stindl, Werner, Leroy Sané, the latter one who could also play as shadow striker,” Honigstein explains.

A wide and solid squad, the many choices available for the offensive line make Germany dream of a World Cup back-to-back triumph in a difficult season for Bundesliga clubs in European competitions (only Bayern Munich progressed to the Champions League knockout stage and all German teams were eliminated in Europa League group stage).

A disappointing score that doesn’t seem to affect A-national team. They hope to do better than in 2017. Maybe by lifting the World Cup trophy in Moscow.


Cover and article photos ©LaPresse

Special thanks to Michele Tossani