Most Germans look forward Euro 2012 with great optimism. Of course. The revolution in young player development has already fruited the best product. Never has in history Germany had so much and so deep talents pool in the national team. World Cup 2010 marks the year of German’s young talents emergence. Neuer, Boateng, Kheidira, Ozil, and Mueller were unfamiliar for the ears of most people, but they stunned the world with their exceptional performance and German advanced until the World Cup winner Spain stopped them. Two years later, the talents have been growing in quality and quantity. The youngsters have grown in skills and maturity. They were great players, but now they are worldclass players. The greatness doesn’t stop here. Germany even manages to add the depth of the team. The combination with new emerging talents such as Howedes, Hummels, Aogo, Badstuber, Kroos, and Gomez are more than adequate materials to conquer any championship. And under guidance of senior players like Lahm and Schweinsteiger, Germany is the strongest contender of Euro 2012 and even World Cup 2014.

Quality and quantity. Germany has it both. It was the characteristic which Spain possessed when they reigned the world in Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010. Spain had enormous number of player (especially midfield which leaves the like of Arteta remains uncapped) even their Team B could also participate in championship. Now, with Spain looks declining, it seems Euro 2012 will mark the shift of power to Germany.

Good players alone won’t make a good team. Argentine would be the one who understands it the most. Albiceleste always has the materials to make it to championship, but ever since Carlos Bilardo stepped down, the nation has never tasted any major trophy except Copa America 1993. Germany has Joachim Loew who understands the national team inside and outside. He was Klinsmann assistant in World Cup 2006 and since Klinsmann’s retirement, the hot seat was handed over to Loew. Year 2006 was the refreshing year of Germany football. After disastrous Euro 2004 which saw them failed to qualify from group stage, Germans faced World Cup 2006 with pessimism. It seemed the team wouldn’t bounce back from Euro 2004 failure and furthermore the coach was an unexperienced one. But surprise happened. Germany played attractive football, showed some glimpse of young talents, and advanced to semifinal only deservely losing to reigning Italy in thrilling extra time. Klinsmann was hailed as the hero albeit the team did not make it to the final. When he resigned from the national team, he recommended Loew without any doubt and hesitate in mind. Under Loew, the young talents rises even more. Klinsi paved the way for young players to the world, but Loew did it for even more players. Klinsi played offensive football, but Loew nurtured better creative player and brought the offensive to another notch. What Klinsi did, Loew did it even more.

That’s the brief introduction of the coach who has guided Germany national team to the bright future. With great coach on the bench and great players on the pithc, it seems Germany is the strongest contender for Euro 2012. But, even the most powerful has the weakness and so does Germany. And to everyone’s surprise, the weakness lies on the most unpredictable sector : Loew himself ! No kidding, the weakness of Germany national team lies on the much-heralded coach. How come ?

Germany today is the contrast of what Germany has shown us before Klinsi-Loew era. The Panzer was known for its stability, pragmatism, and champion mentality. The last aspect is the most important quality which Germany had since 1954. With their renown mentality, they defied logic to win the World Cup 1954, 1976, and 1990. Year 1954 saw Germany defeated the legendary Magic Magyars which consisted of best players of the generation like Puskas, Kocsis, Hidekguti etc. Year 1976, Germany defeated the much-adored Total Football Netherland. Both events had similarities. The Germany’s opposition always the much-favoured side and they always dealt with totally unpredictable adversary. In 1954, Hungary dealt with muddy pitch after heavy rain. Then came Adolf Dassler, greatest Germany hero in World Cup 1954, put in the screw-in stud on each Germany player’s boot. Hungary couldn’t cope with the pitch, the players couldn’t play their usual techinical football. On the other side, with the help of the stud, Germans controlled the pitch better and then won the final. Fast forward 22 years later, Netherland also faced the strange problem that they would never think of. Night before the final, Netherland was stroke by the rumor of wild party in the team’s camp. The rumors was notoriously spreat by Germany newspaper The Bild and the disruption worked. Netherland, especially Cruijff, could not play their ideal game and ultimately lost. The examples show us Germany was destined to be the great team and proved the world they could fight anything and win anything with such strong mentality. People complaint how beautiful football lost to the ugly one, but they forget Germany were beautiful in their own way. Year 1990 was the final seal of Germany’s pragmatism and champion mentality strength. It was the bad World Cup with dull matches all over tournament. The final was Germany versus Argentine. Although Argentine had Maradona, Albiceleste played very ugly football and won ugly matches to advanced to final. And they certainly lost because ugly football was Germany’s game. Don’t ever imagine won ugly football with Germany. As Lineker said ,” Soccer is a game for 22 people that run around, play the ball, and one referee who makes a slew of mistakes, and in the end Germany always wins.”

Champion mentality. That’s what missing from Joachim Loew. So far, his achievement is champion of DFB Pokal in 1997 and Winner Cup runner-up in 1998 with Stuttgart. And then, Austrian championship with FC Tirol Innsbruck in 2002.  With national team, they are 3rd in Confederation Cup 2005, 3rd in World Cup 2006 (both of them as Klinsi assistant), 2nd in Euro 2008, and 3rd in World Cup 2010. See, he only won small scale championship such as DFB Pokal and Austrian League. He never won any prestigous tournament. Anyone would say ,”Give him time and he will bring success for Germany”. I am afraid not. World Cup 2010 semifinal underlined his lack of champion mentality. Germany met Spain, the strongest team back then and considered as one of the best national team ever. From the very first match of the World Cup, Loew always played offensive football, but that was not the case in semifinal. Everyone had anticipated for the attractive match, some said it was early final. But, the match went dull and it all thanked to Germany’s defesive approach. Tactical flexibility is always OK, surprise strategy is good, but fear isn’t. When they met Spain, it was as if Loew cower under Spain superior passing ability. And the great coach is the one who isn’t fear his opponent. If the coach himself already felt inferior, how could he rally his players to perform well ? The match was won by Spain in so un-German manner. Boring match, but the winner wasn’t Germany. And conceded by the setpiece which has been their strong point ever since ? And, although Spain was the strongest team in the world back then, it was not an excuse. Remember, in 1954 and 1976 Germany showed the nerve of steel. Against all odds, they defeated currently strongest team Hungary and Netherland. In 2000, the national team didn’t have such mentality and failed to replicate the feat.

By now, Germans should realize of the deep pit under the bed of roses they lay on. The coach without champion mentality would fail in winning any trophy. Raynald Denoueix of Real Sociedad 2003, Christopher Daum of Leverkusen 2001, and Hector Cuper of Inter Milan 2002 are the examples. Without champion mentality, they will miss the trophy although they faced the easiest scenario they would imagine. And worse for Germany, despite of the array of immense talents, many of them are still untested in big stage. Hummels’ performance in UCL is below the standard he sets in Bundesliga. Goetze, albeit of his magnificent talent, is now injured, missing many games of the season, and only a youngster who could succumb under pressure. Of course you cannot rely on him to perform consistenly like the senior player does. And the worst is Ozil. He has obvious weakness, that’s his stamina. And, since his move to Madrid, Ozil always fails to deliver good performance in El Classico. Let’s combine those seem-unrelated factors. The greater the game, the greater the pressure, and the quicker the stamina will run out. He is the main source of Germany’s creativity. Without him, Germany’s offence will decrease by some levels. Every Germany’s player is adepted in launching quick pass on counter attack, but only Ozil who possesses the lockpick to open the tight defence of his opponents. The worst scenario is, the opponent takes the lead and they intent to keep the score until long whistle. Germany cannot launch counter attack because the opponent is sitting back. Ozil is already tired and ineffective for the rest of the match but subs him means Germany doesn’t have the source of killer pass. Doom.

IF I am wrong and Loew succeeds in leading Germany to Euro 2012 triumph, of course it is the easy decision. Unless Loew himself who resigns, DFB will allow him to stay as the coach. But IF he fails and only achieves 2nd or 3rd place like he used to be which is likely happens, that’s when the dilemma begins : keep him or dismiss him. Keeping him on the coach seat means safety and satisfaction. The common sense is ,”Why would you replace the coach who guarantess the minimum semifinal progress ? He also brings bright prospect to Germany football future. It is only matters of bad luck, isn’t it ?” But replacing him means the gamble and thirst of winning although the decision will meet the resistance of most people. Well, good luck for finding the solution, Germans. Just hope somehow the champion mentality will be instilled among the Loew and the players just like the older generation had. Only, be realistic because such mentality is not something learnable in few months.

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