The 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.