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back Bundesliga | 24.03.2013 19:40:44

German football's new image

  • Bayern's Mario Götze embodies the new generation of fast-paced, technically superior German footballers
  • Players in the mould of former Bayern Munich keeper Oliver Kahn, here attempting an unusual form of distracting an opponent, are no longer the norm
  • Schalke's Julian Draxler (r.) has been a mainstay of the Royal Blues team for the past three seasons, despite being just 21

Munich - While few of us openly admit to enjoying stereotypes, behind closed doors there are not many things football lovers the world over take greater pleasure in than a spot of opposition-bashing.

Aside from providing a common bond for like-minded fans, light-hearted banter is also part of what makes the game so unique, not to say popular.

Changing syntax

In the past, German football has often been mocked in the same manner as it has as a country historically: as functional, mechanical, humourless and robotic.

Yet like the nation as a whole, the Bundesliga has been undergoing a gradual process of transformation. Such lazy descriptions, laced with a mixture of envy and contempt, no longer tell anything like the whole story. Adjectives such as exciting, fast-paced, technically top-class and tactically astute are far more appropriate to the modern German game.

Constant progress

Of course there's no smoke without fire and, like most stereotypes, the aforementioned attributes did have an element of truth about them. Past Germany sides prided themselves on producing on-pitch warriors, the mere mention of whose names would leave opponents quaking in their boots. Lothar Matthäus, Oliver Kahn and Stefan Effenberg are just a few of the names considered quintessentially Germany by the football-watching world.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup on home soil, where Germany finished third, helped to change that general perception somewhat. Reaching the latter stages of subsequent major tournaments, and doing so by beating some of the world's best sides in devastating style, have also shown the global footballing community - and Germany themselves - that this is a very different era for the national game.

New breed

While maintaining many of those traditional virtues, the latest generation of players come hard-wired with pace, versatility and outstanding technique. Mario Götze, Marco Reus, Toni Kroos and Julian Draxler are the poster boys for the new breed, possessing the talent and mental strength required to nail down regular starting berths for their clubs both domestically and in the UEFA Champions League.

A look at Borussia Dortmund's goals, particularly the first and third, in their 3-0 demolition of Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 22 this season, superbly showcases the talent the former trio bring to the table. Continue to mock the 'functional, mechanical and humourless' Germans if you will, but the chances are that they will have the last laugh.

Jonathan Stockitt

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