The revolution that German football has undergone over the last seven or eight years hasn’t been demonstrated with titles for the national team (yet), but the success of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, relying on German players and not just a horde of foreigners, is due to the immense pool of talent, especially in attacking midfield positions, the country currently has to offer.
In the most recent squad, called up for the qualifiers against Austria on 6 September 2013 and against Faroe Islands on 10 September 2013, these were the names in the attacking midfield: Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and we’ll also include Andre Schurrle, even though he’s a lot more of a forward than a midfielder.
And there are those who weren’t even called up – Marco Reus, who just might be the best German player right now in any position, Mario Gotze, still injured, and Lewis Holtby, who isn’t getting too much playing time with Tottenham.
One of the more incredible things about this group of players is the age – Reus, Ozil and Muller are 24, being the oldest of the group. Kroos and Holtby are 23, Schurrle is 22, Gotze is 21 and Draxler is only 20.
This doesn’t mean that we’ll finally see Germany win something, their first title since 1996, when they arrive in Brazil. The flourishing of one position does not project on others in this case, as anyone who has seen Bundesliga matches between most teams can see the abundance of attacking intentions, technique and flair, but also a defense that’s usually very soft and easy to punch through, as the 4-2 win by Manchester United over Leverkusen proved once again.
But Germany have one of the most complete squads heading into the World Cup, and maybe finally good enough to pierce that Semifinal ceiling. They haven’t been to the final since 2002, and some still don’t understand how they made it that far in Japan & South Korea.
Last time (Euro 2012), it was Italy’s pragmatic approach that was the downfall of Germany, looking like the favorites to win the tournament at that point. Spain in both 2010 and 2008 stood in the way of finally touching glory. Joachim Low needs to win something with this generation, because it’s too talented to go on remaining empty handed with the national team. Finding a way to balance a more cautious approach at times while not giving up on the resources he has behind the strikers is once again his greatest mission heading into Brazil.