Germany will defend their FIFA World Cup title in Russia next year after winning nine games out of nine in qualification so far to confirm their place. On the back of two- yes, two - international tournament triumphs this summer, bundesliga.com takes a look at why Germany are football's greatest force.
It is now widely known that Joachim Löw could feasibly field four competitive teams at next year's FIFA World Cup, but less familiar is how and why Germany have got to where they are. bundesliga.com takes a closer look…
Yes it may sound boring but Germany's success is all down to hard work. The country's passion for the game is not limited to merely playing; it has spilled over to coaching too. Indeed, recent statistics indicate that there are more registered coaches in Germany (34,970) than in any country bar Spain (England has just 2,769).
2) Focus on youth
Having a youth academy is not something German clubs merely pay lip-service too; it is a pre-requisite to gaining their license each year and as such they take it very seriously. With a good pool of coaches plying their trade across the nation, plenty of well-trained players are bound to emerge.
3) Youngsters are given a chance
Bundesliga clubs are not shy about throwing teenagers in at the deep end, giving them the chance to test themselves against the best in the business. For example, Niklas Süle, Max Meyer, Timo Werner and Maximilian Arnold had each made 100 Bundesliga appearances whilst still eligible for the Under 21s – and each lifted a title over the weekend. In 2016/17, Leverkusen's Kai Havertz (18) and Schalke's Thilo Kehrer (20) were just two of a number of youngsters to establish themselves among the pros.
Watch: Werner's top five goals
4) More homegrown players feature
Over the course of the 2016/17 campaign, 470 different players appeared in the Bundesliga. Of those, 221 were German, which equates to roughly 47 per cent. Compare that to England, where only 30 per cent of all players in the Premier League are eligible to play for the national side.
5) Competition for places
This is the logical consequence of the previous points. Good coaches bringing through more quality players inevitably means there will be greater competition for a berth in the starting line-up. With several players vying for each position, Charles Darwin's theory of the 'survival of the fittest' prevails, and Germany are left with the best of the best.
6) Winter break
Who knew that having a break from weeks and weeks of intensive training, travelling and sprinting could be beneficial? Well, as it turns out, Germany did. The Bundesliga's month-long hiatus over Christmas provides players with a valuable opportunity to recover mid-season, helping them have fuel left in the tank come the summer – which is when major international tournaments tend to be played.
7) Technique not physique
Years ago players such as Joshua Kimmich (176 cm), Meyer (173 cm) and Serge Gnabry (173 cm) might have been deemed to small to make it at the highest level. Yet Germany's focus on technique, tactical awareness and positioning allows talented players, however diminutive, to make the grade as long as they're good enough. Next time you watch Germany play, pay attention to how often the ball is lost due to a poor first touch, or how often possession is given away cheaply. Chances are, you won't have much to count.
Watch: Gnabry's top 5 goals
Another key aspect of Germany's coaching is that all age groups are all schooled in 4-2-3-1 system – the formation favoured by Löw for the seniors. That means that by the time young players are ready to take the next step up, they are already prepared for what is to come.
Plenty of other countries have a 'winning mentality', right? So why are the Germans so famed for theirs? Perhaps it has something to do with the Bundesliga having the highest average attendance in Europe (40,693 per game in 2016/17), meaning youngsters become accustomed to playing big games in front of huge crowds on a weekly basis – and are not overawed by it.
This is another traditional German trait has served them well at tournaments. For example, at the 2014 World Cup, Löw's charges were based at 'Campo Bahia' throughout the event and stayed in carefully-selected huts, rather than players having individual hotel rooms, to foster team spirit. Similarly, when Germany have played World Cup qualifying fixtures in distant countries like Kazakhstan, which is three hours ahead of Germany – Löw's squad stick to German times for meals and sleep so as not to disrupt their body clocks.