Ten years? Is that long enough to transform or revolutionize a country’s football tradition? Spain had the proper foundation or skill base and Aragonés was able to revolutionize their footballing tradition in four years. Belgium made a fundamental change in the development of their youth in 2002 and twelve years later was considered one of the favourites to win the World Cup. Germany is the new kid on the “Tiki-Taka” block. How long did it take them to get to this point?

Germany trashes Brazil at the 2014 World Cup.

Germany trashes Brazil at the 2014 World Cup.

Prior to the 1998 World Cup, Dietrich Weise had proposed the introduction of a national talent-scouting and development scheme, utilizing a network of regional centres to develop 13 to 17-year-olds. At a cost of US$1.2 billion, it was deemed too expensive. However, after the German squad was humiliated 0-3 by Croatia in the quarter-finals, Weise was hired as Director of Youth Development. Under Weise, the German federation created 121 training centers. With these new centers, youth had access to a regional center within 25 kilometers of their home. Interesting fact…21 out of the 23 players who lifted the World Cup in Brazil are graduates of the youth system; the other two were already professionals by the time the reforms were made.

Dietrich Weise today.

Dietrich Weise today.

Many of the top German clubs already had their own youth setups for decades but most were located in the western part of Germany. The Bundesliga introduced new rules requiring the 18 clubs in the Bundesliga 1 to have the high performance centers for youth development by 2001-2002. The Bundesliga 2 clubs at first resisted the academy system, due to its high cost. Running an academy became a condition of obtaining a licence to play professional football in both divisions as of 2002–03. The introduction of the “50% plus one” rule in 2001, which requires Bundesliga clubs to be owned by their members, also helped to promote homegrown talent. In a little more than a decade, Germany has invested nearly $1 billion in its youth programs, with academies run by the clubs and training centers overseen by the German federation!

When Germany was eliminated in the group phase of Euro 2004 losing to the Czech Republic, Klinsmann took over the coach’s job from Rudi Völler, with Loew as his assistant. Klinsmann made some basic changes to the German footballing style. He replaced the traditional 3-5-2 formation with a 4-4-2 system, employing a four-man defense with attacking fullbacks, a four-man or a diamond formation midfield and two forwards with high pressing. He dropped formerly untouchable keeper/captain Kahn, brought in American consultants to work with the players, hired a sports psychologist, and emphasized youth development. Many of these changes were considered controversial and Klinsmann was attacked in the papers and a few members of the German Parliament even threatened to drag him into a parliamentary committee hearing. Klinsmann left the team after placing third in the 2006 World Cup hosted by Germany. Many Germans saw third place as a success based on the early pessimistic forecasts. The fact is that Germany did not face any significant competition until the quarterfinals. Klinsmann’s record during his tenure was 20W – 6L – 8D although his record against top ten teams he faced was 1-3-6 overall, the single win coming against Portugal in the third-place game at the 2006 World Cup.

The innovative but under-appreciated Jurgen Klinsmann (left) and his eventual successor, Joachim Löw (also known as Joachim Loew, on right).

The innovative but under-appreciated Jurgen Klinsmann (left) and his eventual successor, Joachim Löw (also known as Joachim Loew, on right).

So after 2006, Loew took over as coach; Loew was always regarded as the brains of the Klinsmann-Loew team by the German press. Loew likes to play with a backline that are confident with the ball and are able to play with a high line (pacey). He prefers midfielders (in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3) who are dynamic with their positioning, able to pass quickly and accurately, and have the pace to protect the midfield. And lastly, his forwards are clever with their off-ball movements and are able to play defense on the attacking full-backs. This is the new German Tiki-Taka, equally efficient at playing down the wings or through the center. Where the past, the German style was described as robotic or efficient, journalist began to utilize words like “fluidity” and “beautiful”. Loew’s record as coach has been impressive, leading the Germans to two tournament finals, Euro 2008 and 2014 World Cup.

End of Part 3.


  1. The Complicated Coaching Career of USMNT Manager Jurgen Klinsmann
  2. How to Build a World Cup Winner (Das Reboot)
  3. La revolucion Alemania
  4. How German football rose from the ashes of 1998 to become the best in the world
  5. From a tactical perspective, what did German coach Joachim Low do right for the game against Brazil? What did Brazilian coach Luiz Scolari do wrong?
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One Response so far.

  1. Yorugua Yorugua says:

    Amazingly today Klinsmann has his share of detractors in US socer. Not many are happy that Klinssmann wants a promotion/relegation setup (MLS thinks his comments cheapen the league), his use of foreign born players has been met with heavy criticism, notably from Abby Wambach who blasted him (see this link: http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/article/14381681/abby-wambach-blasts-jurgen-klinsmann-use-foreign-guys)

    Germany did undergo a dynamic transformation as your post mentions, the Germany who crashed the 2002 finals was a million years behind the Germany that won it in 2014 – even Maradona took an easy potshot at the 2002 side, calling it an inferior team, as I remember. Germany has always featured great tournament teams but what you write about Klinssman (switching from a 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2) deserves mentioning. Where I think, Uruguay could emulate Germany is in finding a more progressive and forward thinking manager… I hope, Fabian Coito doesn’t inherit this Celeste side, his style (or approach) is somewhat similar, somewhat clumsier than the Tabárez style.

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