Germany’s 1-0 victory over Argentina in the World Cup final was a result of a radical transformation in German football that took place nearly 15 years ago.
Following the disastrous Euro 2000 campaign in which Germany finished bottom of their group, the Bundesliga and DFB were forced to undergo a drastic overhaul of youth football.
The idea was to develop more home-grown, technically gifted players, which would benefit everyone in the long-term. More than £600m has been spent on youth football development and scouting in the last decade.
The DFB’s talent development programme was introduced in 2003 with the aim of identifying promising youngsters and providing them with technical skills and tactical knowledge at an early age.
Yet most importantly these young players are being pushed into their respective first-teams. While other countries may look to bring in young foreign imports, the German sides want to nurture all of their home-grown talent.
In England for example, we hear big things about certain players around 18 or 19, only for them to all-too-often lose their way, or go out on loan too many times, which prevents them from developing sufficiently.
The DFB wanted to move away from playing in straight lines and relying on “the German mentality” to win matches. Instead coaches focused on developing fluid formations that required the sort of nimble, dexterous players who would previously have been overlooked because of their lack of physical strength.
Players such as Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil are prime examples of small, technically gifted players, who 15 to 20 years ago would never have reached the summit.
Throughout the tournament the Germans have been incisive, ruthless, tactically sound and the movement of the attacking players has caused havoc.
The slick, measured passing game we see in La Liga is inflected with a greater urgency in Germany, where more teams play a high-energy, pressing game.
The infamous era of Tika-taka football is dead. The Germans power and pace is the future of football and looks almost unstoppable.
This is not just a golden generation. Looking at the ages of the players: Julian Draxler (19), Andre Schürrle (22), Sven Bender (24), Thomas Müller (23), Holger Badstuber (24), Mats Hummels (25), Mesut Ozil (24), Ilkay Gundogan (23), Mario Götze (22), Marco Reus (23), Toni Kroos (24).
There is no end to what this German team can achieve for a number of years.
Fittingly it was Gotze who scored the winner last night. The golden boy of German football who has a great future ahead of him. Some would say he is the poster boy of this new crop.
Perhaps more worryingly for international teams is that there are more and more talented players being found every day in Germany. In 2001 England beat Germany 5-1 in a result that will go down in English football history. If we look at the state of the two sides now, it’s embarrassing to say the least.
England crashed out at the group stage and the players are simply not technically good enough, in stark contrast to their German counterparts.