Why Germany Will Follow Spain as International Football's Next Great Dynasty
The Spain national football team won Euro 2008, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2012, but their dominant reign could be coming to an end as the Germany national football team is set to become football's next great dynasty.
This slideshow will outline three key points:
1. The quality of Joachim Low's squad.
2. The Bundesliga benefiting from mass investment into youth.
3. The next German generation.
Very Deep Squad
Forget about the likes of Andre Schurrle, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ilkay Gundogan, Jerome Boateng, Lukas Podolski, Manuel Neuer, Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, Mesut Ozil, Miroslav Klose, Per Mertesacker, Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, et al.
To illustrate how expansive Germany's talent pool is, here are 10 Bundesliga players, either on the outside looking in or a backup in Joachim Low's German national football team squad.
Andre Hahn, Augsburg RW, Age: 23
Hahn's athleticism is astonishing.
He is a 6'1" winger/quasi-forward, who wins 6.2 headers per game, the third-highest in the Bundesliga.
Yet, he is more known for his pace and how he is a one-man counterattack for Augsburg.
He is direct (10 goals in league play; the same as Manchester United's £300,000-a-week Wayne Rooney), can finish with either feet and a constant threat to opposing teams.
Bernd Leno, Bayer Leverkusen GK, Age: 22
Leno is Leverkusen's undisputed No. 1 and is emerging as one of Europe's best goalkeepers.
He has saved 73 shots from 99 shots faced, per Fox Soccer, which is a 73.7 save percentage.
During the 2011-12 season, he was ranked as the Bundesliga's best keeper, per Kicker.
Christoph Kramer, Borussia Monchengladbach CM (on loan from Bayer Leverkusen), Age: 23
Kramer has formed a strong bond with teammate Granit Xhaka in the heart of Gladbach's midfield and the duo combine to accumulate 134 passes per game.
Kramer can create space for himself by charging past players and he has the potential to be a dominant presence in midfield for a major club in several years' time.
Gonzalo Castro, Bayer Leverkusen CM/RF, Age: 26
Castro is such an all-round player that he can fill in in a wide forward role or be an influential figure in midfield.
He is a creative hub, registering eight assists in the Bundesliga, which is tied with Stuttgart's Alexandru Maxim, Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery, Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus and Hoffenheim's Roberto Firmino for most in the German top flight.
Kevin Volland, Hoffenheim RAM, Age: 21
Volland has been a factor in Hoffenheim's high-powered attack (third most goals in the Bundesliga) this season.
He had scored eight times, created three goals, while being able to take on opposing players (averages 2.5 dribbles per game).
Hoffenheim will struggle to keep him and his teammate Firmino as both are ready to move on to bigger and better things.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Borussia Monchengladbach GK, Age: 21
Ter Stegen had a Victor Valdes-like brain fade against Eintracht Braunschweig, which also happened against the United States when Ter Stegen played for Germany.
That said, he is a magnificent shot-stopper.
On the subject of Valdes, Ter Stegen is the prohibitive favourite to become Barcelona's No. 1, per Mundo Deportivo (h/t Football Espana).
England do not even have a No. 1 (Joe Hart did not even start in Manchester City's League Cup final while Celtic's Fraser Forster needs to be playing in a stronger league), whereas Germany have arguably Europe's best keeper in Neuer and a high-quality backup in Ter Stegen.
Max Kruse, Borussia Monchengladbach DLF, Age: 25
Kruse can score, create, dribble and contribute to maintaining possession.
Kruse and Raffael are an enterprising partnership since Gladbach are playing a 4-4-2 system without a No. 9, meaning both players are deep-lying forwards, who drop deep into midfield.
Kruse is not a vital member of Low's squad, but the 25-year-old would be the go-to guy for the large majority of other countries because he is a special player.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga, Hamburg CF (on loan from Hertha Berlin), Age: 22
If Low abandons the false-nine system, then Lasogga could be Germany's starting No. 9 at the World Cup.
Here are several reasons why.
- Fiorentina's Mario Gomez is starting from the bottom again, per Randall Hauk at the Telegraph.
- Leverkusen's Stefan Kiessling has irreconcilable differences towards Low, per the Express (h/t Stephan Uersfeld at ESPN FC).
- Father time is catching up to Lazio's Miroslav Klose, 35, who will probably use Cameroonian Roger Milla as inspiration to make the dream of scoring at the upcoming World Cup a reality (Milla scored World Cup goals as a 38-year-old and 42-year-old).
- Lasogga has scored 11 times in the Bundesliga this season, the most by a German.
Robin Knoche, Wolfsburg CB, Age: 21
Knoche had a game to forget when Hoffenheim scored six.
However, that was more a case of how hot Hoffenheim can get when they are functioning cohesively, rather than Knoche being a defensive liability.
Knoche tackles well, cuts off passes, wins 4.9 headers per game and facilitates from the back (averages 55.2 passes per game).
He deserves more credit than he gets because he is good enough to make the next step up.
Tony Jantschke, Borussia Monchengladbach CB/RB, Age: 23
Jantschke is Gladbach's Mr. Reliable.
He is an elite right-back in traditional terms of a right-back staying back and being defence-first.
Considering how solid his positional sense is and how calm he is, it is no surprise that he has played 13 games at centre-back this season.
Germany Should Reach FIFA World Cup Semi-Finals
Andre Hahn, Bernd Leno, Christoph Kramer, Gonzalo Castro, Kevin Volland, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Max Kruse, Pierre-Michel Lasogga, Robin Knoche and Tony Jantschke are having elite seasons, yet may not even start a game at the World Cup.
Though, Low still is worried.
"On paper, we have a top team with top quality and top individuals," Low said, per FIFA.com. "But the reality looks a little different."
No, that's a cop out.
Germany have the strongest squad depth in the world by a country mile and if Low does not reach the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup, it would be a reflection of his managerial competency, not the player's ability.
German Next Generation
The future is bright for Germany as there is a next generation of German Bundesliga prospects, who all have world-class potential.
So why is Germany producing so many quality footballers?
"Rather than hoping for the stars to align, the league has been proactive and invested heavily in academies," Clark Whitney at Bleacher Report wrote. "A 2011 report from the DFL showed how investment from 2002 to 2010 totaled approximately €520 million, increasing each year from €47.85 million to €85.70 million."
Last season, "the 18 Bundesliga clubs spent nearly €80 million on their young player promotion programmes," per the 2014 Bundesliga report (page 10).
Here are 10 best German Bundesliga talents 20 years or younger.
Johannes Geis, Mainz CM, Age: 20
Mainz manager Thomas Tuchel has allowed Geis the freedom to loft long-passes from deep.
He does give away possession 24.1 percent of the time he attempts a pass, though he has registered 42 key passes (a pass that leads to a shot) in 23 league games.
Not only is Geis a playmaker, he is a prolific ball-winner, making 71 tackles and intercepting 40 passes.
Jonathan Tah, Hamburg CB, Age: 18
He is physically immense: 6'4" and 198 pounds.
He is the only competent centre-back Hamburg have despite still being a teenager.
Perhaps he can reach the level of former Hamburg player Vincent Kompany.
Julian Draxler, Schalke LAM/DLF, Age: 20
Draxler can score goals from 30 yards out, he is fourth in the Bundesliga for dribbles per game (4.7) and is a dynamic attacking player.
Though, he looks disinterested and is playing out this season as if he has no future at Schalke.
He said he would not rule out a move to Bayern Munich, per Sky Sports, implying he could make the switch to Bayern.
Leon Goretzka, Schalke CM/LAM, Age: 19
Factoring in Schalke's back-to-back thrashings against Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, why not start Goretzka from here on?
He is technically astute and moves well with the ball.
He has made four league starts this season, including one as a left attacking midfielder in a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen, a game he scored in.
Loris Karius, Mainz GK, Age: 20
In the last six league games, which team has the second-best defensive record?
Karius has played a big role making spectacular saves, in particular eight against Bayer Leverkusen.
Matthias Ginter, Freiburg CB/DM, Age: 20
Ginter is so composed in possession that he has played in midfield during Julian Schuster's absence.
Ginter has won back possession 82 times in league play (38 tackles and 44 interceptions).
He is a transfer target for Manchester United, per Gary Jones at the Daily Star.
Max Meyer, Schalke CAM, Age: 18
Schalke are mortgaging their future on Meyer, giving him the No. 10 position, rather than Draxler, who has the No. 10 shirt.
This suggests Schalke management believe Meyer has a higher ceiling of success than Draxler.
Maximilian Arnold, Wolfsburg RAM/DLF, Age: 19
Arnold is a threat to score long-range goals, he has excellent positional sense in the attacking half and has netted six goals, a good return for a 19-year-old.
With Kevin De Bruyne at the club, Arnold's future will be out wide.
Niklas Sule, Hoffenheim CB, Age: 18
Like Tah, Sule's physical measurables (6'5" and 201 pounds) are off the charts.
Sule is raw in the tackle, is still suspect defensively, but he will continue to improve.
Timo Werner, Stuttgart LAM/CF, Age: 17
Werner is an explosive forward, who scored a stunning solo-goal against Freiburg, and can play on the left or up front.
He has already scored four times and created another four goals.
Last December, he was labelled by Bundesliga.com as the rookie of the season.
Statistics via WhoScored