The Germans are at their best when they are face down in the mud. After the Second World War, they crawled out of the pit they dug themselves and worked hard on the Wirtschaftswunder. Harald Jähner wrote a great book about it last year: Wolf Time.
The Germans showed the same determination on a completely different level, but in an area that is also important for the Germans, football. After years of investing in foreign players by the Bundesliga clubs, hardly any German talent came through for the national team. In the lean years of 1998 and 2000, Germany went down ingloriously in the final tournaments, and it was important to train stars again for the 2006 World Cup, so that they would shine in their own country.
With an ingenious system of support points, the German federation scouted talents in areas where there were no professional clubs, and the professional clubs were obliged to set up a youth academy. The emphasis was placed on technique and personal development, rather than on the collectivity and strength, which the Germans previously excelled at. At a young age, players were given extra training and support and investments were made in all positions on the pitch. Where in the Netherlands in recent years there has been hardly any specialized training with goalkeepers (with all the consequences that entails), our neighbouring country went to work with that. They now bring top talent across all lines. From goalkeepers (5-6 German goalkeepers in the Eredivisie alone) to top strikers!
In this way, in 10 years an enormous potential of great players was created and, as a by-catch, great trainers were also trained. So much so that the European competitions are dominated by German trainers.
If the development of German football continues as the development of the German economy has done, then the Netherlands can wet itself for the coming years and the mutual confrontations will become a butt squeezer.
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