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Confederations Cup

Opinion: Confed Cup victory shows Germany doesn't produce second string players

What a summer it has been for German football. But we shouldn't be surprised - this is the result of years of impressive work off the pitch. And it certainly isn't a second-string national team, writes DW's Ross Dunbar.

German football is basking in the glory of winning two international football tournaments in the space of 48 hours, but these victories were a long time in the making.

The Confederations Cup was lifted in St. Petersburg on Sunday after a 1-0 win over Chile, while on Friday Germany's star-studded U21 side won the European Championship, beating an outstanding Spanish team by the same scoreline.

And there might well be more to come. The Under-19 squad begins its quest to win the European Championship on Monday while Germany's women's team will aim to win its seventh European title in a row later this month. Germany also sent a strong team to the Under-20 World Cup, which was eventually won by England. 

The perception has been that, despite impressive squads elsewhere, the world champions have been fielding a reserve team at the highest level. Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Leroy Sane, Mesut Özil, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and others have been given a well-earned break this summer as Joachim Löw rung the changes for the tournament in Russia.

Deutsche Welle Englisch Fußball Ross Dunbar (DW/P.Henriksen)

DW sports writer Ross Dunbar

A wealth of options

Most of those men were at the heart of the World Cup success in 2014 and it's undeniable that most will still be prominent in Löw's thoughts. But it's foolish to suggest that they are Germany's only international standard players. It's not like Löw has plumbed the depths of the German game to find his Confederations Cup squad. Germany's starting 11 in the final boasted an average age of 24; they aren't exactly teenagers.

The victorious German team shares 193 previous international appearances. The 11 starters on Sunday night have racked up over 2000 first team games between them in some of Europe's biggest leagues. 

Jonas Hector and Joshua Kimmich have been Löw's first-choice full backs since Euro 2016. Julian Draxler, crowned the best player in Russia, has first-rate experience by the bucketload at several different clubs. Golden boot winner Timo Werner scored 21 times in the league for RB Leipzig, who will be in next season's Champions League after finishing second in the Bundesliga.

Both Leon Goretzka and Lars Stindl have come off the back of exceptional seasons in the Bundesliga. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen plays for Barcelona, while Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle helped Hoffenheim to fourth and will both be Bayern Munich men next season.

None of these players are rookies - not even close.

Long-term planning prevails

None of this can be ascribed to luck. The German FA deserve a wave of plaudits for investing in the grassroots. Germany's youth development program was transformed and relaunched in 2003 with the strategic vision of raising professional standards across the board and bringing uniformity across all of Germany's regional federations. 

Academies must meet rigorous standards set by the German FA and external analysts. In the 2015-16 season, German clubs invested more than 150 million euros (about $170 million) in their youth development departments. For Europe's strongest nation, with a population of 81 million, to boast a whole bunch of well-coached, highly-talented professionals is nothing extraordinary. But the current glut of top class players is reward for the type of rational, long-term planning not seen in many other major football nations.

To dub Germany's Confederations Cup team a 'B' side is to disrespect what Germany have achieved in the past decade. Germany doesn't produce 'B' players; it produces winners. That trend has been long established and it will continue for years to come.

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