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The German Soccer Masterplan – Historic Greece Reloaded

Germany seems to have discovered the reply to Spain’s tiki-taka model and is a rustic on the edge of greatness in European and worldwide soccer.

Germany seems to have discovered the reply to Spain’s tiki-taka model and is a rustic on the edge of greatness in European and worldwide soccer. On this first of a 2-part sequence we have a look at German soccer’s masterplan to enhance the fortunes of the nationwide aspect by radically overhauling its footballing infrastructure and the way the plan has assisted the latest success of Bundesliga golf equipment like Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. 

German soccer is now reaping wealthy dividends from funding initiatives undertaken since 2000 to enhance the standard of its coaches and younger gamers. At the moment, the German Soccer Affiliation (Deutscher Fußball-Bund or DFB) started a programme of serious and sustained funding to radically enhance its footballing infrastructure. 

In typical German vogue, the DFB undertook painstakingly thorough analysis to find methods to develop higher gamers and coaches. They sought to supply a technology of nice gamers and realized from the experiences of nations like Spain, Holland and France. The Germans have been conscious that the French rose to prominance by successful the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000 with a group from multi-cultural backgrounds. The DFB’s plan was helped by a change in Germany’s nationality regulation in January 2000 which enabled foreigners to change into German residents. Lately, gamers of international origin, together with Actual Madrid’s Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira, have change into established within the nationwide group. 

A key a part of the masterplan was the DFB’s requirement that each one Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 golf equipment construct youth academies to develop younger expertise. The DFB, which regulated the standard of those academies, additionally constructed 121 nationwide centres to assist younger gamers develop their technical abilities. The Germans took full benefit of advances in sports activities science, notably from America, to enhance gamers’ bodily health parameters and employed psychological strategies to boost on-field efficiency.


The setting-up of the Bundesliga youth academies and the DFB’s district and regional coaching centres coincided with the collapse of Kirch Group, the broadcaster that had owned the Bundesliga TV rights. This, along with the results of the Bosman ruling in 1995, acted as a monetary wake-up name for Bundesliga groups, lots of whom had historically signed costly international gamers. After the youth academies grew to become established it made sound financial and soccer sense for golf equipment to advertise home-grown expertise to the first-team. 

At current, nearly 60% of Bundesliga gamers are German, dramatically greater than the English Premier League the place lower than 40% of gamers are English. Lots of the German gamers, whose common age is 24, are Bundesliga academy graduates. 

Christian Seifert, the Bundesliga’s chief government, has emphasised the significance of the shut relationship between golf equipment and the DFB in German soccer’s latest renaissance and the advantage of the “50% plus one” rule launched in 2001. The rule meant that golf equipment couldn’t be greater than 49% owned by a single entity. Apart from VfL Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen, long-established works groups owned by Volkswagen and Bayer respectively, all German soccer golf equipment are required to have at the very least 51% member possession. The importance of that is that almost all of votes on essential selections are solid by followers. 

Seifert has identified that this can be a much better place than having a international proprietor who has little curiosity within the fortunes of the nationwide group. As Seifert explains, “The individuals who run the golf equipment very a lot have their roots right here, and along with the DFB I assume we share one thought: that Germany ought to have world-class German gamers.” Seifert additionally makes a vital level in regards to the DFB and Bundesliga golf equipment working to their mutual profit by saying, “After all every membership is concentrated on its group……however the shared imaginative and prescient of the golf equipment in Germany is that we now have to have a robust nationwide group, that helps soccer within the nation.”


Indicators of Optimism 

After Jürgen Klinsmann was appointed supervisor in 2004, Germany started to arrange meticulously to extend its possibilities of success. Klinsmann launched sports activities science ideas he realized while residing in California and devised particular person programmes to watch gamers’ health. Germany have been stated to be the fittest group on the 2006 World Cup. The Germans consideration to element prolonged to the preparation of dossiers, usually a number of a whole bunch of pages in size, about forthcoming opponents. Professor Buschmann at Crew Cologne’s Sporthochschule stated that in Euro 2012 he and his group analysed details about their opponents starting from the quantity of ball contact, to tactical and technical points of the sport, and the strengths and weaknesses of particular person gamers. 

Germany was crushed by Spain within the last of Euro 2008, and reached the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 the place, as soon as once more, they obtained plaudits for his or her thrilling, dynamic soccer. 

The longer term for German soccer appears to be like splendidly thrilling. The standard of gamers rising from academies in recent times suggests the masterplan has been an enormous success. Borussia Dortmund supervisor Jürgen Klopp is conscious of constructive adjustments and has stated, “Now we now have an unimaginable quantity of gifted gamers. New promising gamers come up on a regular basis. We’ve change into braver by taking part in younger children of 17 years of age.” German gamers like Dortmund’s Marco Reus, Mario Götze (quickly to maneuver to Bayern) and Bayern’s Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer are thought of by many soccer consultants to be properly on their technique to change into world stars. 

Gegenpressing: The Antidote to Tiki-Taka? 

Allow us to now contemplate what has been taking place at membership degree in German soccer and the affect that the DFB’s masterplan has had on the standard of gamers, groups and techniques. 

This season’s Champions League has as soon as once more served up a feast of excellent fare for soccer followers. A significant speaking level has been how Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have efficiently dominated and managed video games utilizing a high-tempo, excessive urgent recreation, a tactic known as ‘gegenpressing’. 

Gegenpressing, popularised by Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund aspect in latest seasons, entails highly-organised urgent, each with and with out the ball, and lightening-quick counter-attacks to penetrate and punish the opposition. 

Bayern Munich’s sensible Champions League semi-final demolition of Barcelona was a footballing masterclass. An absolute tactical triumph. With out their star participant Lionel Messi within the second leg on the Nou Camp, Barcelona have been outplayed by a robust Bayern aspect whose pre-match preparation was so thorough they appeared to enter the sport realizing the reply to each query the Catalan aspect might pose. 

Bayern made Barcelona’s tiki-taka model look drained. Over each legs of the tie we noticed a contest between Barça’s one trick pony and Bayern’s many trick pony. The Catalans’ over-reliance on Messi’s genius over the previous few years and an apparent lack of top of the range cowl in key positions elevated their vulnerability. Now, many have begun to foretell the loss of life of tiki-taka and the dominance at membership and worldwide degree of highly-organised, co-ordinated defensive and attacking models.


Barcelona’s nice success over a lot of the previous decade has been as a result of tiki-taka, a possession-based model of soccer characterised by brief passing and clever, co-ordinated motion undertaken by technically gifted gamers. The Barça aspect underneath supervisor Pep Guardiola, who paradoxically is about to handle Bayern Munich, have been formidable. Barcelona usually dominate possession in matches. Usually, towards groups who pack the defence and midfield, Barcelona proceed to cross the ball patiently till a gap is created or the opposition defence makes a mistake. We got here to simply accept that Barça and Spain’s tiki-taka would finally outwit even probably the most defiant defences. 

Earlier this 12 months in an article entitled “Tiki-Taka Versus Clever Parking the Bus”, I wrote about how, particularly within the Champions League, Barcelona’s tiki-taka model had been countered by some highly-organised, technically subtle groups using a mix of ultra-defence and explosive counter-attacking. These groups, together with Inter Milan, Chelsea and AC Milan repeatedly pressed and harried Barça as an alternative of in search of to dominate possession of the ball. 

There’s little doubt that the performances of those groups and in addition of Actual Madrid in La Liga reveal that, with out enough area to manoeuvre and thread intricate, incisive passes, tiki-taka will be ineffective. When pressed in a extremely organised means with defenders, midfielders and forwards all working tirelessly in a co-ordinated method, the area for the Barça gamers Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Iniesta and Messi to cross and transfer will be so restricted that they find yourself passing the ball sideways and to little impact. 

Within the Champions League this season, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and in addition Juventus in Italy, have demonstrated a tirelessly energetic, co-ordinated strategy to urgent groups. This has helped them to regain possession in addition to proscribing area for his or her opponents to cross and transfer. Watching these groups defend and assault so cohesively can resemble a sequence of choreographed dance rountines. And, as demonstrated so brilliantly by Bayern of their Champions League semi-final victory over Barcelona, urgent and tightly closing down as a unit additionally enabled them to anticipate and intercept a few of Barça’s passing. 

A Win-Win State of affairs 

On the premise of what we now have seen within the performances of the German soccer group and people of golf equipment like Bayern and Dortmund, the long run for German soccer appears to be like exceedingly brilliant. The golf equipment have clearly benefited from the DFB placing into place a system of youth improvement which can change into the long run mannequin for each nation on the earth. The Bundesliga golf equipment now have established youth academies, their stadia are usually fashionable, entrance costs are inexpensive and followers have a say within the working of the golf equipment. In German soccer there’s a win-win scenario the place the DFB and the golf equipment work in concord to supply a profitable nationwide group. Sadly, that is one thing which has lengthy since been acknowledged to be lacking in English soccer.



German soccer has arguably by no means been in such a robust and wholesome state. The longer term for each the German nationwide group and Bundesliga golf equipment appears to be like exceedingly brilliant. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have dominated within the Champions League this season while Schalke 04 have demonstrated nice potential.

Bundesliga golf equipment have clearly benefited from a masterplan by the German Soccer Affiliation (DFB) in 2000 to radically enhance their footballing infrastructure. Elementary to the present success of German soccer is that the DFB and Bundesliga golf equipment work in concord to their mutual profit. Because of the funding in youth improvement and coach coaching, Bundesliga golf equipment have seen the emergence of academy-produced home-grown expertise. This, in flip, has helped the German nationwide group which now contains extremely gifted younger gamers like Özil, Khedira, Müller, Götze, Reus and Kroos.

The second and last article of this sequence examines the latest success of the highest two German groups Bayern Munich and Borussia Dormund and, specifically, their employment of ‘gegenpressing’ (or counter-pressing) as a part of their tactical repertoire. An intriguing query is whether or not the ultra-organised, ultra-commited, cohesive defensive and attacking strategy employed so efficiently by Bayern and Dortmund has the potential to change into the brand new pressure in European soccer and dominate over the Spanish possession-based tiki-taka model? 


No doubt, the large success of Barcelona and the Spanish nationwide aspect introduced European and worldwide soccer with a big downside. The problem has been to develop a tactical strategy able to triumphing over tiki-taka. 

Let’s contemplate Borussia Dortmund’s resolution. Their astute supervisor Jürgen Klopp studied the Barça model in nice element however, importantly, he didn’t got down to imitate tiki-taka. As a substitute, he developed the gegenpressing model of play. 

How Gegenpressing Works

Gegenpressing differs from Barcelona’s strategy of urgent groups as excessive up the pitch as attainable by incorporating a defensive in addition to attacking aspect, which entails the entire group urgent aggressively in unison. Gegenpressing is a highly-organised strategy to regaining possession and minimising area for the opposition. Dortmund’s opponents are quickly closed down by well-rehearsed, co-ordinated urgent actions, usually by two or extra gamers, allied with clever positioning to limit area for gamers to cross and transfer into. Klopp is aware of that possession of the ball with out creating and taking goal-scoring alternatives means little. He additionally understands that for possession-based approaches like tiki-taka to be efficient, gamers want area to cross and transfer in key areas, notably the ultimate third of the pitch.


The Dortmund supervisor has described gegenpressing as “one of the best playmaker on the earth. The perfect second to win the ball is straight away after your group simply misplaced it. The opponent remains to be in search of orientation the place to cross the ball.” As soon as Dortmund have regained possession, the transition from defence to assault is organised and, probably, explosive. However, though Klopp is famend for his dedication to open attacking soccer, he’s no ‘one trick pony’. Gegenpressing doesn’t imply taking part in the identical means on a regular basis. Dortmund can play a wide range of types and formations, all underpinned by the gegenpressing strategy. 

In opposition to Actual Madrid within the Champions League group phases this season, Madrid have been allowed the vast majority of ball possession however the Dortmund gamers carefully pressed Madrid gamers like Xabi Alonso to restrict his skill to cross and produce others into the sport. Klopp and his gamers did their homework to discover ways to anticipate Madrid’s play and efficiently eradicated or restricted each the availability to and goal-scoring alternatives for the extremely harmful Cristiano Ronaldo. Klopp used gegenpressing to capitalise on Dortmund’s skill to execute extraordinarily fast transitions, shifting the ball up the sector as quick as attainable. 

Extremely-Quick Transitions

Pace of play issues very a lot to Klopp. This season, Dortmund’s assault has taken on a brand new dimension with the acquisition of younger German worldwide Marco Reus. He and the younger maestro Mario Götze (who has now signed for Bayern Munich), regarded by many as the brand new Messi-in-the-making, have brilliantly exploited the area between defence and midfield. Klopp has inspired the pair to play as shut collectively as attainable. Dortmund’s transitions have been even faster than in earlier seasons and Götze and Reus have created the overwhelming majority of Dortmund’s scoring probabilities. 

Anybody who has watched Dortmund this season can’t fail to have been impressed by the chemistry and link-up play of Götze and Reus, referred to collectively as “Götzeus” due to their ingenious interaction, involving nearly telepathic passing and motion. This has added a further layer of sophistication and unpredictability to Dortmund’s play. Their lightening-quick attacking actions have capitalised on the devastating ending of gamers like Polish worldwide ahead Lewandowski. An excellent instance of this was the build-up to their opening purpose towards Malaga within the Champions League quarter-final. The pace of passing and motion that preceded Reus’s implausible mid-air back-heeled flick to place Lewandowski via to attain was chic. 

Work Ethic

However let’s not overlook that Dortmund’s technical and particular person brilliance is pushed by excessive ranges of motivation and dedication. Klopp has impressed his gamers to work extraordinarily laborious as a group, referring to this as “greed…the starvation to eat up that additional kilometer of grass.” Klopp is aware of solely too properly that any tactical strategy, together with gegenpressing, received’t convey success with out sheer laborious work. Earlier this season Klopp commented, “I would like us to go to the restrict each time. There’s a saying: a great horse solely jumps as excessive because it must. I’ve put it in a different way for my group: a extremely good horse jumps as excessive as it might. To present every part on the pitch, that’s what we practice for.” 

Footbonaut Know-how

Urgent opponents relentlessly all through a recreation requires gamers to be as match as is bodily and technically attainable. Klopp has educated his gamers to develop unimaginable stamina, as evidenced by their Bundesliga and Champions League working distance statistics. Dortmund actually work tirelessly with and with out the ball. 

Nonetheless, along with health, Klopp astutely noticed how leading edge know-how might enhance gamers’ approach and assist them to develop razor-sharp reactions. In a earlier article “Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund: Masters of Know-how and Approach”, I described how Klopp launched a extremely subtle computerised ball feeding machine known as Footbonaut to Dortmund’s coaching regime. This know-how has improved gamers’ response time, ball management, spatial consciousness and peripheral imaginative and prescient. 

In line with Klopp, Dortmund are the one group on the earth to make use of Footbonaut. The know-how matches completely with Klopp’s philosophy of taking part in soccer at devastating pace and with razor-sharp precision. Klopp is a part of a brand new breed of coaches who see the good good thing about programming gamers’ brains to react extra shortly, nearly instinctively, on the pitch.



Let’s now contemplate the explanations for the upturn within the fortunes of Bayern Munich this season. Many consider that this has been as a result of studying from Jürgen Klopp’s profitable Dortmund group. 

For instance, after seeing their rivals Borussia Dortmund win consecutive Bundesliga titles, Bayern labored laborious in pre-season to keep away from a repeat of earlier seasons the place they performed, at instances, lovely soccer however received nothing. Munich added gegenpressing to their tactical repertoire. It has given Jupp Heynckes’ aspect a priceless extra dimension. Bayern can now play a wide range of types that features a possession-based, nearly tiki-taka model, launched by Heynckes’ predecessor Louis van Gaal. 

Nonetheless, Klopp shouldn’t be impressed by how Bayern went about bettering their possibilities of success, evaluating their strategy to Chinese language businessmen saying, “They have a look at what the others are doing, after which they copy it with different individuals and more cash. After which they overtake you.” 

Bayern actually spent massive on some gamers like €40m Javi Martinez, a defensive midfielder signed from Atlético Madrid, who has helped them change into a extra strong unit. Bayern have additionally added some metal to their defending. They’ve conceded simply 15 targets within the Bundesliga this season. To emphasize this level, the following finest defensive group, FC Freiburg, have conceded 38 instances. Their defensive play has usually seemed imperious towards high sides in Champions League encounters. In line with Manuel Neuer, the Bayern goalkeeper, the important thing to Bayern’s success is that “the entire group defends properly, covers areas properly, once we lose the ball we go and win it again.” 

Supervisor Jupp Heynckes has highlighted his group’s improved cohesive and group effort saying, “We’ve improved this season, we’re higher defensively and at switching play. The factor that pleases me is that each participant has to grasp that they must defend and assault.” Arjen Robben who has beforehand performed within the Premier League for Chelsea and in La Liga for Actual Madrid echoed Heynckes’ feedback. When requested why Bayern dominated within the Champions League this season he stated, “We play as a group, not simply going ahead however, extra importantly, defensively. We’re very properly organised and everybody is aware of their job. Don’t give them area and, before everything, be organised.” 

Matthias Sammer, appointed as Bayern’s sporting director in the beginning of the season, says succinctly “The nice outcomes are the upshot of laborious work.” And there’s little doubt that the fluidly and cohesiveness of Bayern’s play this season has been underpinned by an amazing work ethic, particularly in limiting area for his or her opponents. They’ve refined their urgent recreation to the purpose the place they’ve managed to nullify the affect of nice playmakers like Sergio Busquets of Barcelona and Andrea Pirlo of Juventus within the Champions League. Javi Martinez’s defensive midfield partnership with Bastian Schweinsteiger has contributed considerably to Bayern’s improved urgent recreation. 

Bayern’s nice pace and aptitude in transitions from defence to assault have capitalised on the tempo and ending of Robben, Ribery, Müller and Mandzukić to punish opponents. Within the Champions League semi-final towards Barcelona, Bayern executed the gegenpressing tactic brilliantly to take full benefit of the area Barcelona depart after they push excessive upfield. Heynckes astutely noticed how weak Barcelona may very well be after shedding possession to a group that may assault cohesively in numbers and at nice tempo.


Different Components in Bayern’s Success 

Bayern’s profitable season owes a lot to the gegenpressing tactic however, in reality, it’s one in all many tactical approaches that Bayern can utilise in video games. Let’s contemplate plenty of different key contributory elements in Bayern’s success this season. 

Über Crew Spirit

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has been Bayern’s Government Board Chairman since 1991 and has been concerned with the membership for over 30 years. Rummenigge has spoken in regards to the extraordinary group spirit that units the present squad other than earlier Bayern groups, lots of whom achieved nice home and European success. Rummenigge believes that is as a result of willingness of every participant to work in the direction of the shared mission of the group somewhat than deal with particular person wishes. 

This season Bayern have been stronger due to Heynckes’ concerted efforts to make his gamers extra aggressive and develop a starvation for fulfillment. He instilled into his gamers the significance of by no means being happy or doing simply sufficient to win. His plan was for each member of his squad to assume and really feel they have been a part of a group and to contribute as a lot as attainable to the group effort. 

Energy in Depth

Membership chairman Rummenigge believes Bayern’s squad high quality and energy in depth has performed a key position of their success this 12 months, saying, “I realized this 12 months {that a} group is made up of 24 somewhat than simply 11 gamers.” A scarcity of squad energy in depth is definitely one thing that Barcelona should now be regretting after their demolition by the bouyant Bayern aspect. 

The Matthias Sammer Impact

Each Bayern and Dortmund have emerged as main forces in European soccer in no small measure due to their skill to fuse the famend German bodily energy and stamina with technical abilities that, prior to now, have been related solely with South American and, extra not too long ago, Spanish gamers. 

Bayern’s enchancment this season has coincided with the astute appointment final summer season of former German Soccer Affiliation (DFB) technical director Matthias Sammer as sporting director. Sammer performed an essential half in devising the DFB’s masterplan to remodel Germany’s youth improvement system. Sammer has helped Bayern to maximise gamers’ bodily and technical improvement. Much like Jürgen Klopp at Dortmund, he has taken full benefit of advances in know-how, sports activities science and sports activities psychology.


And Lastly……

Barcelona’s success in recent times supplied a big problem to European golf equipment to develop gamers and formations able to competing towards the tiki-taka model. This season within the Champions League, Bayern and Dortmund have demonstrated that successful is about greater than possession of the ball. We’re witnessing the rising effectiveness of the gegenpressing strategy, notably in German soccer, involving ultra-fit, technically subtle gamers working extraordinarily laborious as cohesive defensive and attacking models. 

Many individuals are predicting that Bayern and Dortmund can emulate the latest achievements of Barcelona and go on to dominate European soccer in coming years. For now, in gegenpressing, it seems the Germans might have lastly found an antidote to tiki-taka. 

What are your ideas on this challenge?

(supply:, by: Paul Waring)


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