Posts Tagged ‘Mesut Ozil’

Many watched in wonder as Germany destroyed England and then Argentina at the 2010 World Cup.

Back then it was only Spain – who also defeated Germany in the final of Euro 2008 – who could stop Die Mannschaft.

Spain were, of course, the best team in the world and were recognised as such by winning the tournament.

Whilst they’re still favourites for Euro 2012, they should be worried. Because Germany are even better than they were two years ago.

This view was expanded on by Michael Cox, editor of Zonal Marking, who said: “Three months ago I thought they were favourites. Now I think Spain are ‘faves’ again, although I think they’re less complete than many think.

“Holland are either very average or ruthlessly efficient – I couldn’t decide at the WC, I can’t decide now. Germany are second favourites, I think.”

Out have gone Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrich – the weak spots of the 2010 side – and in are Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber, two of the most talented young centre backs in world football.

Manuel Neuer, very good back then, is now probably in the top three goalkeepers around, while at the other end Mario Gomez has been an absolute goal machine.

It is in midfield, however, that Germany has an embarrassment of riches.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira ran the show from midfield in 2010, despite being just 25 and 22 respectively.

Schweinsteiger has had injury problems of late, but he should be fit and firing come the Euros, and if that is the case then he will again be the heartbeat of the side. Khedira, meanwhile, hasn’t enjoyed the success of his compatriot Mesut Ozil since they both made the move to Real Madrid, but his experience in South Africa should stand him in good stead.

Khedira’s spot is likely to come under threat from Toni Kroos, who has been a revelation for Bayern in the absence of Schweinsteiger and is developing into a top class playmaker. Euro 2012 could well do for Kroos what the World Cup did for Khedira. Then there are the Bender twins, Lars and Sven, who have been in great form for their clubs.

The midfielders playing ahead of those, if – as expected – Germany keep with their 4-2-3-1 fomation are an equally mouthwatering, jaw-dropping array of talent.

There’s the aforementioned Ozil, one of the stars of Real Madrid’s season as they have demolished all in their path in La Liga. Thomas Muller – top scorer at the World Cup two years ago isn’t in the best form, but that’s unlikely to make much difference and he’s still a big part of the side.

Lukas Podolski is, at 26, enjoying his best ever season in the Bundesliga and likely to move to Arsenal in the summer. Given his age, his record of 43 goals in 95 internationals is staggering.

Then there’s Mario Gotze, one of, if not the hottest property in world football – and he isn’t even guaranteed a start.

An unbelievable arsenal in both attack and defence, and I haven’t even mentioned the captain Philipp Lahm or Miroslav Klose – the latter is just five goals away from equaling Gerd Muller’s record of 68 goals for Germany.

Then there’s Marco Reus, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Andre Schurrle and more. The hardest part of Löw’s job will be fitting all these players into a 23-man squad and then finding his best XI.

And if he gets that right, then he and the rest of the Germany are likely to be celebrating a fourth European Championship success.

Mesut Ozil – practically a veteran at 23

Germany have perhaps the greatest pool of young talent currently available to any football playing nation.

However, it wasn’t always this way, and much like the other articles in this series, the way Germany turned things around following their Euro 2000 disappointment is very much something England could and should be looking at.

Just over a decade ago, having looked at poor performances from the national side, clubs in financial meltdowns and an ever-increasing number of foreign players, it was commissioned for 121 national talent centres, for players aged 10-17, to be built throughout Germany; while every club in the top two divisions had to have a youth academy.

Clark Whitney, German football editor of goal.com, said: “There is nothing serendipitous about the quality and quantity of young talent coming from the German first and second divisions. In 2000, after an aging Germany side utterly failed at the European Championship, the DFL made strict requirements for all 1. and 2. Bundesliga clubs to have youth academies, with very specific guidelines regulating their quality.

“There are also periodic sessions in which crops of youngsters are brought together to be trained in the style of the senior national team. The result is a large number of talented players who are well-nurtured, and take very little time to integrate into the senior national team.”

The benefits are clear for all to see. In recent years Germany have won the U17, U19 and U21 European Championships, and are one of the favourites for the senior tournament this summer.

The likes of Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller and regarded as superstars, yet not one of them is older than 23. Similarly, the likes of Mats Hummels and Marco Reus are ready to burst onto the world stage, and there are plenty more waiting-in-line.

By contrast, England still call upon the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Scott Parker, John Terry and so on – all of whom are at least 30. There are some exceptions – Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker to name a few – but, ultimately, the English national side continues to be an ageing one, filled with players who have experience, and contributed to, past failures.

The fiasco that was no qualifying for Euro 2008, and the woeful performances in 2010’s World Cup were both supposed to lead to a youth revolution, but it is to the old stars Fabio Capello has turned, suggesting the younger players are not good enough.

Germany looks like having a side to challenge for at least the next decade. England may take that long before even attempting to catch-up.

You can follow Clark on Twitter: @Mr_Bundesliga.

It could have been an England shirt.

Every club makes mistakes when it comes to young players. Lewis Holtby was Borussia Monchengladbach’s.

Having joined their youth team at age 11, he was told at 14 that he was “too small and too slow.”

Holtby made the move to Alemannia Aachen, and following their relegation from the Bundesliga, he made his debut at the age of 17, although he was far from a regular.

He did establish himself in the first team the following season, and it wasn’t long before scouts from many a Bundesliga club were looking at him. The side that did get him was Schalke 04.

After half a season with The Royal Blues, he was sent out on loan to VfL Bochum to gain more experience. Gain experience is exactly what he did, playing 14 times, scoring twice and showing a lot of potential.

That potential began to turn into something substantial and consistent with a second loan move, this time to Mainz 05 for the duration of the 2010/11 season. It was, ultimately, the making of him.

Given plenty of freedom and with little expectation, he shone at Mainz, playing 30 games and establishing himself as something of a creative force, in particular one with an eye for a pass.

His form didn’t go unnoticed by the national side. He was handed the captain’s armband of the U21 side, and a full cap came at the end of the 2010/11 season in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Azerbaijan.

The ended any aspirations the English FA may have had of persuading Holtby to pledge his allegiance to the country of his father’s birth. However, we may yet see Holtby in England, as like his father (a soldier from Liverpool, who was stationed in Monchengladbach) he is an Everton fan, and has made no secret of his desire to play for them.

As it stands at club level, he is progressing very nicely at Schalke, with the only criticism being he needs to add more goals to his game. At international level, his biggest problem is competition – with the likes of Gotze, Kroos, Ozil et al chances are going to be few and far between. Next time he gets one, he needs to take it.

Dynamic operator in the midfield who brings out the best of those around him. Terrific work-rate. Fast-tracked into the national side to keep him out of the clutches of the dastardly English – that’s how highly he’s rated.” John Dobson, journalist. @dopsonjp

The video below shows some Holtby highlights…

Germany currently has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to up-and-coming young stars. Thomas Muller, for example, is only 22 – but you’d be forgiven for thinking he was older, such were his performances at the 2010 World Cup. Holger Badstuber, Mats Hummels, Marco Reus and the Bender twins – all just 22. Mesut Ozil is practically a veteran at 23 years old.

So, out of those aged 21 and younger, who is the best? I have deliberately left the name Mario Gotze off this list, as I’ve no doubt he’d come top. So perhaps I should ask, out of those aged 21 and under, whose number isn’t Mario Gotze, who is the best young German prospect?

Please vote in this poll to decide. I’ve put a few names down, but I want as many opinions as possible, so feel free to use the ‘other’ box if I’ve missed out someone you feel is worthy. Thanks.