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Neither in the national team, where it always stood out, nor with Bayern Munich, a laureate club in Europe, Germans have been able to recover from a negative dynamic
German soccer has always been respected for its persistence, which has allowed it to obtain great results in the discipline, mainly in world cups, in which it has triumphed four times (1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014). It has also had in its team great players of world soccer as Franz Beckenbauer, Fritz Walter, Helmut Rahn, Gerd Muller, Uli Hoeness, Karl Heinz Rummenigge, Jurgen Klinsmann, Lothar Matthaus, Phillip Lahm, and Miroslav Klose, to name a few.
At the club level, Bayern Munich has always been at the forefront of the old continent, which has made it one of the most important entities in the discipline, with titles from the European Cups (now the Champions League), campaigns of 1973-74, 1974-75, 1975-76, 2000-01, and 2012-13. Undoubtedly, a fame earned and helped with sporadic and positive participation of clubs like Borussia Dortmund (champion in 1997) and Bayer Leverkusen (runner-up in 2002).
However, since 2017, just after obtaining the Confederations Cup that year in Russia with their alternative team, beating two national quality teams that attended the event with all their figures such as Chile and Portugal, it seemed that Germany would continue to dominate the world soccer. It did not happen. On the contrary, it began an unexplainable debacle, from which they car still recover and that this editor will try to explain here at Latin American Post.
There was a phrase of the legendary English goalscorer Gary Lineker, in relation to German soccer, which said "Soccer is a sport in which eleven persons play against other eleven and in which Germany always wins". The phrase traveled the world and was adopted in general by the environment of this sport because it was very close to reality. Germany has played 19 soccer world cups of the 21 that have been played (only missed in 1930 and 1950) and in 15 of them reached the quarterfinals, of which 12 they stood on the podium. A few numbers to applaud. Mentality, perseverance, results and awards.
National team and Bayern: an unbreakable link
The first thing to say is that in both the national team, led by Joachim Löw, and in Bayern, the main problem seems to be the same, because it is the same base of players: the age of many of its members, who have lost quality and speed over the years, such as Matt Hummels, Jerome Boateng, and Thomas Muller.
Löw stopped calling them, but for many his decision was too late, because the image left in Russia 2018 (eliminated in the first phase) and in the UEFA Nations League (sent to category B) had much to do with the slowness of these two defenses and the low performance of the latter, who never scored a goal again.
All this is transferred to Bayern, who today looks aged and without spark with a coach like Nico Kovac, who does not seem ready yet for such responsibility. Their foreigners are not in good level and that is reflected not so much in the domestic league, where they do not seem to have rivals, but in Europe, where today they are just another team, far from giants like Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester City, just to mention four.
The other reason does not come with age, but with an injury. Manuel Neuer, once the best goalkeeper in the world, suffered an injury for many months and since he returned, almost a year ago, he has not been the same, as he has shown insecurity in situations that he used to handle well; nor does he play the ball with his feet as in the past and his speed with his hands is no longer the same. Despite this and the great physical condition of his counterpart Marc Andre Ter Stegen, the regular first player is still Neuer.
Another reason for the low level of this selection, which recently began its journey towards Euro 2020 with the corresponding eliminatory, in our opinion, is to lengthen the process with Löw, which has lasted for almost 13 years as the main manager. It is true that with the aforementioned strategist there was a great advance in player development, besides the world title in Brazil 2014, two third places in 2010 and 2006, the second place in Europe in 2008 and a European semifinal in 2012, in addition to the title of the Confederations Cup in 2017, but the process, like everything, has worn out.
This is a new breed of players that does not interpret in the same way Löw's style of touch and possession, which had as main referents names like Phillip Lahm, Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Petr Mertesacker, and Lukas Podolski. All these have already retired from the national team almost immediately after they lifted the World Cup in the final of Rio de Janeiro against Argentina.
Another mistake was not betting to give more prominence to that group of young players, champions of the 2017 Confederations such as Timo Werner, Leon Goretzka, Lars Stindl, and Julian Draxler, for the World Cup in Russia. This happened just to respect some of those who were champions four years ago (Hummles, Boateng and Muller, and others like Sami Khedira, Niklas Sule, Mesut Ozil, or Neuer himself), but who were not in such good shape as the youngest.
Germany must commit to restructuring at this time and it seems that it is already doing so. There is time. The qualifiers for Euro 2020 have just begun and those of the Qatar 2022 World Cup will begin at the end of next year. Men like Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry and Werner himself seem to be the figures around which the new project will revolve. Will it work? I think so, beyond Joachim Löw.
LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano
Translated from "¿Por qué ha bajado el nivel del fútblo alemán en los últimos años?