What’s the Luxusproblem? Germany are spoilt for choice
The buzzword in the German media at the moment is Luxusproblem - quite literally, luxury problem. On the back of a 2011 which has seen a near flawless Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, and concluded on Tuesday night with a 3-0 drubbing of the Netherlands, things are looking up for the German national team.
And that is where luxury comes into the equation. Germany’s first victory over their arch rivals since 1996 was clinically delivered by a team missing its captain in Phillipp Lahm, its midfield talisman in Bastian Schweinsteiger, and its most on form goalscorer in Mario Gomez. Even against a Holland side short of a couple of key figures itself, the win constituted an impressive achievement for a German national team who, according to Fifa rankings, are nearly 100 points worse than their Dutch counterparts. It was a fitting testimony to the adaptability and strength in depth that Joachim Löw has brought to his Germany side over the last few years.
The major Luxusproblem is one which has drawn comparisons with great German teams of old. The seemingly everlasting debate as to how to combine the already established Mesut Özil and Borussia Dortmund’s wonderkid Mario Götze has led many a romantic to recall the days when Guenther Netzer and Wolfgang Overath would battle for the same place in the starting eleven. In truth, the comparison is neither accurate nor helpful. Where Netzer and Overath were vying for an identical position in a rigid tactical set up, Özil and Götze are the epitome of flexibility, with both playing in a variety of midfield roles for their respective clubs.
For those wondering how on earth the still emerging Götze could realistically be challenging a Real Madrid regular, it is worth remembering that this is a player for whom Arsene Wenger reportedly bid EUR40m last summer. More to the point, Borussia Dortmund, a club still coming out of the crippling debt they incurred at the turn of the millennium, turned down said 40m.
It is not just in attacking midfield that Germany can consider themselves spoilt for choice. With the rise of Toni Kroos and the Bender twins, Sami Khedira can no longer feel secure in his defensive midfield role. In the absence of Gomez against Holland, meanwhile, Miroslav Klose showed the world why he is still very much one of Germany’s top assets, delivering a superb assist for the opening goal, and a glorious header to double the lead later on in the first half.
Löw, who celebrated his 75th game in charge of the Nationalmannschaft against Holland, has created what the world had thought impossible. A Germany side so flexible and creative in attack that they are actually pleasant to watch, as well as remarkably good at winning games. There is a genuine feeling in Germany that 2012 might just be their year again. They even have a slogan for the sentiment, which reads: “It’s time for black and white.” Not the most catchy of catchphrases, but then again, they were never famed for their clever wordplay. Rather their unerring ability to win football tournaments.
That is not to say that Germany are without issues going into 2012. Despite the win in Hamburg on Tuesday, the preceding fixture away to the Ukraine was a tactical experiment which went seriously wrong, with the team only just salvaging a 3-3 draw. The quality of their substitutes bench, moreover, is still a little way off that of Spain’s. Defensively, Löw still has no real replacement for Lahm, and right back continues to be a problem position, as first choice Jerome Boateng prefers to play centrally.
In general, however, this is a Germany side which can once again strike fear into its opponents hearts. Since 2006, they have become something of a nearly team, with two semi finals and a final in three major tournaments. But second place is for the Dutch. In Germany, winning is deemed more generally acceptable. So Spain and Holland had better watch out. 2012 might just be the time for black and white.Tagged in: euro 2012, football, germany
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