Why Germany need to look to Klopp for inspiration

by Caylum O'Neill

Klopp DortmundThe German national team have come closer to glory than any other nation without success in the last decade. They have advanced to the penultimate stage of the last four major competitions for which they were eligible, as well as the loss to Spain in the 2008 European Championship Final.

No other nation, not even the mighty Spanish, have consistently reached such heights in major tournaments. Why, then, have Germany failed to overcome the final hurdle so consistently? They possess the talent, commitment and support to be the next challengers to the Spanish throne, so what’s missing?

The answer, I feel, lies in Dortmund, where Jürgen Klopp has brought a young, mainly German side to its best ever domestic position, winning the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal in the same year for the first time in the club’s history. They have come under the spotlight from English media recently following their victory over Manchester City in the Champions League. They went on to top a group containing the champions of Spain, England and Holland. Joachim Löw needs to pay attention to the Borussen Revolution if Germany are to become more than an “almost” side.

The finest young German talent plays in Dortmund at the moment, yet they remain in reserve while the more established players like Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski and Sami Khedira line up in their stead. The trio of Mario Götze, Marco Reus and Sven Bender have proven their worth in Europe and domestically and, in my opinion, have performed better this season than the aforementioned players. They have been schooled in the “monster mentality” praised by Jürgen Klopp, an idea which has led Dortmund to become the most attractive side in Germany, so why can it not work for Die Mannschaft?. The idea of building a national side around the performance and tactics of a club is not a radical one. The most successful national side have played using the tiki-taka style as its mould, so why should Germany not look to its most successful team as a basis for their style of play in future? First, let’s look at the tactics Klopp has employed to such great effect.

Klopp’s tactics are based around the concepts of pressing high up the pitch and having the stamina to do so for 90 minutes, regardless of your position. From Mats Hummels to Robert Lewandowski, each player tracks back and presses equally. The midfield also press high up the pitch, not falling back after losing the ball in the final third, so even if they fail to regain possession immediately, the opposition need to start a counter attack in their own third with 5 or so opposing players in their faces. The wingers are also encouraged to become more central, almost like inside forwards, to let the full backs overlap. There is arguably no side better equipped for these tactics than the Germans. Marco Reus and Thomas Müller are almost the ideal inside forwards, and Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng are both confident in attack and defence. The huge work-rate Klopp insists upon has become a necessity for European sides in pursuit of glory, given the talent and stamina of Vicente Del Bosque’s conquerors. Implementing this system could give Löw’s side the boost they so badly need, and his players are already accustomed to it, either from playing in it or playing against it. It could even be said that Joachim Löw has a squad better equipped to Klopp’s system than Klopp himself, with Bastian Schweinsteiger a superior player to Nuri Sahin and Philipp Lahm a more prominent attacker than Lukasz Piszczek.

Regardless of my personal opinion, Germany will no doubt be one of the favourites to lift the World Cup in a years time, but unless Joachim Löw looks to these heirs apparent to the German throne, I fear they will once again falter at the last. So as Klopp prepares for a season of rivalry with Pep Guardiola, I can only hope that the fight between Monster Mentality and Tiki-Taka is fought not just in the Bundesliga, but at Brazil 2014 also.

5 Responses

  1. Jamie says:

    can’t agree if you think Özil and Khedira should be dropped from Germany. both are brilliant and they’re easily two of Germany’s most important players. Kroos would be next in line ahead of any Dortmund player for Mesut’s spot anyway.

    you make some interesting points and I think Germany do need to take a look at some elements of their team. Jogi has indeed tended in recent years to favour his most experienced players like Mertesacker, Poldi, even recalling Westermann recently – sometimes bafflingly if you look at the players left behind, whereas I agree it’s time for the likes of Wollscheid and maybe Jung to be given a go at the back and Poldi to take a backseat too.

    But Germany have problems that go further than ‘playing like Dortmund’, they don’t play much differently philosophically from Dortmund anyway so I’m not sure what the point of that is.

    I think they’re being prevented from realising the potential touted upon them at the mo because in some positions they have too many great players to accommodate and in other positions there isn’t enough quality. They lack one top class full-back which has caused them problems, they don’t have great strength in depth at centre-back currently. and up-front Klose is still great but coming to the end of his career, and they have a bit of trouble using Gomez effectively with Özil, Reus etc. Interestingly Özil worked suberbly as a false-9 in the 2nd have against France and that could be a fascinating alternative option to the striker. you’d probably be able to add Kroos or Gotze to the first 11 too.

  2. C C says:

    “unless Joachim Löw looks to these heirs apparent to the German throne, I fear they will once again falter at the last.”
    Then perhaps the Clubs involved could have the good grace to allow him to select ALL players available at international breaks, rather than these suddenly appearing ‘viruses’ and niggly injuries that appear at such times, only to miraculously disappear once Club fixtures resume!!

  3. I felt that Ozil and Khedira didn’t perform well enough at club level to be certain starters for the national team, and while Dortmund’s domestic form has been poor, Reus and Gotze have performed well enough individually to warrant a run in the side.

    I agree with you on both Westermann’s inclusion ahead of a pool of talented, young German goalkeepers (Ter Stegen and Trapp come to mind, but Neuer’s place has been cemented), and their strike problem. Gomez’s poor form as of late is irrelevant, unfortunately, as the likes of Kiessling and Meier wouldn’t fit in to the system, and Klose won’t have the legs for a full tournament, in my opinion.

    And I don’t actually think that simply applying Dortmund’s system would solve all their problems, but I may not have made that clear, sorry.

    Thanks for your feedback, it’s much appreciated.

  4. sincerely says:

    no my dears friends…the only lack for the mannschaft is the win mentality, all players are super

  5. Dave says:

    Spain have always had amazing players, but it wasnt untill they actually won something did the pressure ease off and they clicked with the right skills and mentality – i think germany will be the same, the current team plus the talents coming through puts them in excellent shape, once they get a bit tougher mentally and loew stops experimenting in big games then germany will be fine

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