Top 5 Coaches in International Football

Dan Fitch@@DJFitchFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2013

Top 5 Coaches in International Football

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    At the club level, matches come so thick and fast that a manager barely has time to recover from one game, before they have to start preparing for the next.

    International level football gives a manager the breathing space to be a lot more considered in their tactical preparation. If club football is pinball, then international football is chess.

    With a host of international fixtures coming up this week, we've taken a look at the top 5 coaches in international football.

5. Ottmar Hitzfeld

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    The Switzerland manager has achieved the least of any of the international coaches on this list, though you sense that it is only the raw materials of the Swiss squad that are holding him back.

    Compare Ottmar Hitzfeld's record at the club level with the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. He is one of only three managers to win the European Cup/Champions League with different clubs.

    Hitzfeld won seven Bundesliga titles and has twice been named as the World Coach of the Year.

    Not that Hitzfeld hasn't had his successes as the Swiss boss. They were the only team to beat the eventual champions Spain, in the 2010 World Cup, as Hitzfeld's masterminded a 1-0 win.

    With Switzerland currently topping their qualification group for the World Cup in 2014, it looks as though the 64-year-old will soon have another chance to test his wiles against the best opposition on the planet.

4. Cesare Prandelli

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    The former Fiorentina manager Cesare Prandelli didn't immediately find success as the coach of Italy.

    His first game in charge saw Italy lose to the Ivory Coast, but the Azzurri steadily improved as they adapted to Prandelli's brand of football and qualified for Euro 2012 unbeaten. 

    Italy were not amongst the favourites to win the tournament with match-fixing allegations disrupting Prandelli's preparations. 

    Nevertheless, they made it to the final with an unexpected semi-final win over Germany as the undoubted highlight. What's more, Italy reached the final playing a brand of attractive football rarely seen from their national team.

    By achieving results, while eschewing the pragmatism that Italian football is renowned for, Prandelli proved himself as one of the best coaches currently working in the international game.

3. Oscar Tabarez

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    Since taking over as the coach of Uruguay for the second time in 2006, Oscar Tabarez has established his nation as one of the most successful on the modern international football scene.

    Tabarez' first tournament saw him guide Uruguay to the semi-finals of the 2007 Copa America.

    It was three years later in the 2010 World Cup where the extent of Uruguay's progress under Tabarez really shone through. For the first time in 40 years, Uruguay reached the World Cup semi-final, playing some of the most attractive football in the competition.

    Uruguay became winners in 2011 when they were victorious in the Copa America in Argentina conceding just three goals in the entire tournament. 

    Recently, Tabarez' side has experienced some poor form, but if they can ensure qualification for the 2014 World Cup, then Uruguay have the attacking talent to shine in Brazil.

2. Joachim Loew

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    Even when he was sat on the bench as Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant, there was something magnetic about the presence of Joachim Loew, which made people wonder who was really pulling the strings.

    Together they reached the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup with their young team playing some thrilling football en-route.

    Loew became head coach after that tournament and proved that he could do it on his own as Germany reached the final of Euro 2008 before losing to Spain.

    It was Spain who again frustrated Loew at the 2010 World Cup, as Spain defeated Germany this time in the semi-final. At least the German coach could be content in the knowledge that his side always lost to the eventual champions.

    That was until Euro 2012 when Germany lost in the semi-final to Italy. This German side was the one expected to make the breakthrough and be able to challenge Spain's dominance of the world game.

    If Loew is to be considered a great, then sooner or later, he has to win something. Until then, we can all just sit back and admire the fast-paced football from this powerful German side. 

1. Vicente del Bosque

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    When Vicente del Bosque took over from Luis Aragones as the head coach of Spain, he had very big shoes to fill. 

    It was Aragones that had finally ended Spain's long wait for success on the international stage by winning Euro 2008. Could del Bosque carry on the good work?

    There might have been people who doubted del Bosque when Spain lost the opening game of the 2010 World Cup, but del Bosque got things back on track. The Spanish would go on to become world champions for the first time with victory over Holland.

    Spain and del Bosque then retained the European Championship in 2012. Question marks were raised about the attractiveness of del Bosque's possession-based football as the former Real Madrid manager controversially picked a team without an out-and-out striker.

    The critics were answered in emphatic style as Spain thrashed Italy 4-0 in the final. In doing so, they became the first international team to win three international tournaments in a row. 

    Few would bet against del Bosque leading Spain to a fourth triumph in the 2014 World Cup.


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