Saturday, April 02, 2011

Homegrown


Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff hopes Spain's players will be too tired after a grueling club season to defend their European Championship title next year, when he expects his squad to reach its peak.

"I can see the difference in our players from 2006 to 2010, the young players coming now are better technically educated, more used to the media, physically much better," Bierhoff said. "In 2006 we still had problems with a lack of speed and technical issues. With these young players you can see they have had a good education in the clubs' technical centers."

I like Germany's national team and was pleasantly surprised by their performance at the World Cup last year. They seemed to be in poor form in the months leading up to it, so I expected that they might sputter out early, but they managed to pull it all together when it counted. It was especially fun chortling at the looks on Diego Maradona's face as they destroyed Argentina. The semifinal against Spain was a nice game to watch and very clean -- I think I recall it being nearly a half-hour before there was a single contact foul, which is nice, of course, but you would expect a young team in a massive game to be a little more nervous and overzealous. It seemed like they were just too timid, too afraid of making a fatal mistake, and sat back waiting for Spain to come at them, which, of course, probably sealed their fate right there. But overall, they were impressive, and I said at the time I'd be highly surprised if they weren't serious contenders in 2012 and 2014 at the Euros and World Cup. I still love Spain, but it wouldn't be a travesty if Germany were to win either of those competitions. Joachim Loew has done a good job, and even admitted to modelling his team's style after Spain's with more passing and smaller, quicker midfielders like Mesut Özil and Marko Marin. Fun to watch.

And I always have loved watching Bundesliga games, even though it's funny how so many players and coaches play a game of Musical Teams, rarely leaving the league to ply their trade in England, Spain or Italy, just switching to one of their rivals. Good to see so many young players coming up through the club systems there.