Germany impressed the whole world with their swashbuckling brand of football en route to the semi-finals, where they ultimately bowed out to Spain. They had dismantled the English 4-1 and toyed with the Argentines (4-0), and their stellar performances provided some much needed gloss to an otherwise lacklustre world cup. But it was only six years ago, this summer, that they were returning home early from a major tournament and wondering what the future held. Germany had to rebuild after the debacle of the 2004 European Championship in Portugal. They did not win a single game and failed to get out of our group for the second consecutive European Championships (Euro 2000 had already been a huge disaster culminating in humiliating group stage elimination with losses to Portugal and England). German football appeared to have reached its nadir in 2004. The Brand Image of German Football
German football has traditionally focussed on putting function above flair, efficiency above flamboyance, with result-oriented “safety football” holding sway over entertainment for the masses. The first of Germany’s three world cup wins, in 1954, had come by dint of guts and determination rather than verve and panache in the face of much more talented and technically proficient opposition- the ‘Magical Magyars’ of Hungary. The second of their world cup triumphs had also come against the odds, on home soil against the scintillating ‘Total Football’ team of the Netherlands in 1974. Their last win, in 1990 was in the most boring world cup of all time (Italia 1990 has the lowest goals per game average (2.21), and is commonly regarded as the most boring world cup ever). Thus Germany had cultivated a knack of grinding out consistent results despite never really raising the level of their play (in the words of Gary Lineker, “Football is a game played by 22 men, and in the end, the Germans always win.”). The Precipitous slide begins
In the late nineties and the beginning of this decade however, the efficiency began to fade, while the dull nature of German football remained unchanged. A shocking quarter-final loss to Croatia (0-3) in world cup 1998 exposed the chinks in the armour of ageing team, and six years of poor performances later (a 1-5 loss to England in 2001, 0-3 loss to Portugal in 2000 etc), German football was plunged into crisis, after elimination in the group stage of Euro 2004.
The beginnings of revival with the Klinsmann Era
Consequently, the German Football Board (DFB) decided to appoint Juergen Klinsmann (former world cup winner) as coach in the summer of 2004. Juergen had a clear mandate – to revitalize German football and take it back to its rightful place among the footballing nations. He was given a free hand to implement this. Says Juergen, “I got the chance to decide on the direction we took when I agreed to take over as Germany coach that summer, with current manager Joachim Loew as my assistant. 'Jogi' and I began the whole regeneration process by trying to give our national team an identity. We eventually decided to go down an attack-minded route, passing the ball on the ground from the back to the front line as quickly as possible using dynamic football. Klinsmann and Loew designed a new blueprint for German football| From that, we created a style of play that this Germany team in South Africa now really lives and breathes.”
Klinsmann’s Process for turnaround of German Football
Drawing a blueprint for the future of German Football – strategy formulation When Jogi and Klinsmann took over the German side, they made their plans very public and made it clear that they were trying to rebuild from the bottom up. The German Football Association (DFB) helped them by putting a lot of pressure on all the first and second division teams in the Bundesliga (the German football league) to build academy programmes and ensure talented young players were...