A new German ′golden generation′ is at the ready | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 27.12.2017
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A new German 'golden generation' is at the ready

Last summer's Confederations Cup showed just how much talent Germany coach Joachim Löw has to choose from. The main reason behind this is the professional youth development across the country.

Given all the talent at his disposal, could Joachim Löw's job be an easy one heading into the World Cup in Russia? Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco clearly doesn't find this to be a straightforward question, as he tries to put himself in Löw's shoes. 

"It is easy, and yet somehow also difficult, because he's going to have to cut some players," the 32-year-old tells DW, visibly conflicted.

No question - the quality of the players in the German national team is enormously high. There's a reason the contingent of the German football association (DFB) will make the trip this summer with the goal of defending their World Cup title. And that's even without former key players like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm or Per Mertesacker, all retired from international football since 2014.

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

Reschke: 'Youth development at a very high level'

That is because the German football academies are a seemingly endless source that produces top talents like an assembly line for Bundesliga clubs and, by extension, for the German national team.

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"These football academies are working at a very high level. There are already terrific coaches working at the F and E (under-9 and under-11) youth levels," Michael Reschke, a scouting expert and Stuttgart's sporting director, told DW.

Reschke has worked for many years for Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich with talented youngsters deemed good enough to one day play in the Bundesliga. He is also of the opinion that the flow of young stars is unlikely to abate any time soon.

"You have to look at the team that won the U-21 European Championship; some very strong players were unavailable," the 60-year-old pointed out.

Virtually every player has Bundesliga experience

Leroy Sané, Timo Werner, Niklas Süle, Julian Brandt, Benjamin Henrichs, Joshua Kimmich or Leon Goretzka could have all played in the U-21 Euros in Poland, but they were already on duty with the senior team, winning the Confederations Cup.

These nine special talents are already reminiscent of spectacular players such as Mesut Özil, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Sami Khedira, who won the 2009 U-21 European Championships under coach Host Hrubesch, and who continue to play at the highest level around Europe today. So far, this golden generation's greatest achievement was the 2014 World Cup championship in Brazil.

But Reschke says that "virtally all" of the U-21 Euro winners "are already really good Bundesliga players," echoing a recent statement from Löw. The 57-year-old national team coach recently reminisced about the year 2004, when he first joined the DFB setup. Back then, Löw recalled, none of Germany's U-21 squad was regularly playing in the Bundesliga.

Foundation and infrastructure

Things could scarcely have changed more. Nowadays it's the exception when a German U-21 player isn't already a Bundesliga regular. German football's development in recent years has been astonishing, and Löw's hard work and ideas have played a considerable part.

"Any possible concerns about the national team are very much luxury problems," according to Reschke. He says that the infrastructure and the basis for successful youth development is now available across almost all the country. 

Read more — Antonio Rüdiger: 'We are always in competition with each other'

Luxury problems

Reschke could envisage a slight chance in training direction, to promote players' technical and individual dribbling abilities a little more.  "Maybe you could consider it, putting a bit more work into players' individual abilities," he said. But nobody wants to mess with the framework that has been built up in recent years.

The Stuttgart sporting director still has a few concerns. He'd rather not predict whether or not Germany will defend their World Cup title: "The quality of the team is there, but there are so many things in football that you cannot predict."

Still, Reschke and Tedesco would no doubt be delighted if their clubs only faced the kind of "headaches" Jogi Löw will have to master on the road to Russia.

mh/hf

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