Lessons from German footballThe 32-day international football extravaganza has ended with Germany taking the trophy, making it the first European team to win a World Cup final on Latin American soil. The Germans brought home their fourth title - their first since the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Few doubted they would win as they outperformed other teams and mastered the sport with precision, grace, team unity and merciless physical power as seen in their crushing 7-1 victory against host Brazil in the semifinal match.
The team did not have stars such as Lionel Messi of Argentina, Neymar of Brazil, or Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. Instead, it was groomed as a team through long investment, open recruitment, scientific training and constant updating with new talented players. The team’s Coach Joachim Loew attributed Germany’s stunning comeback to an accumulated effort over the last decade. After a humiliating defeat in 2002, Germany took decisive steps to invest in education and the development of players to make them technically better. The 2014 victory was a product of long-term investment in education and training, Loew said. He had been on the national team for the past decade - in contrast to the Korean team, which often replaces the head coach according to the outcome of a major competition.
The German team completely opened up and strictly recruited based on competency. Its best scorers and strikers Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski came from Poland and one of its midfielders Sami Khedira has a Tunisian father and German mother. Mesut Ozil is from a Turkish-German family and is Muslim.
Although well-known for their physiques, the German players mastered football strictly based on science and research. Players practiced with sensors on their bodies to analyze their shortcomings and strengths. Opposing teams were scrutinized meticulously. The radical intake of young players also should be noted. The team recruited Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and included Mario Gotze and Andre Schuerrle in this year’s squad to bring new life to the team.
Germany’s plan, knowledge and passion for football cannot be compared with Korea’s. But the four-time champion had also at one point been in despair. The Korean team must learn from the Germans’ rise through persistent investment and rationalization.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 15, Page 30