This Germany team is just like a family, says Hummels

No more muscular Matthaüs – these young ones are different, defender tells Tim Rich

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The Independent Online

Next to the podium from which the Germany team give press conferences stands a Mercedes – not the ostentatious kind but a sleeker, smaller sort, alongside the slogan "A Heartbeat for a New Generation".

You could say the same of the team. Take the forenames of Joachim Löw's squad: a couple of Marios, a Mesut, a Miroslav and a Lars; by turns Italian, Turkish, Polish and Swedish. Fabio Capello tried to make the point after the 4-1 humbling England took in Bloemfontein two years ago – that this was not a "proper" German team.

What he meant was that Löw's was a "different" German side. Certainly, it feels different from the stiffly hierarchical squads, dominated by Lothar Matthäus or Stefan Effenberg, who muscled through so many tournaments without anyone falling in love with their football.

"We grew up together," says Mats Hummels, the 23-year-old Borussia Dortmund defender, when we meet at the Germany base this week. "I have known many of them for four or five years so it feels more like a family. It is different because we don't have so many senior players. Only Miroslav Klose is over 30. Even our captain, Philipp Lahm, is 28."

Indeed, six members of this side were in the Under-21 team that routed England 4-0 in the European U21 Championship final in Malmo in 2009. Roy Hodgson can call on James Milner and Theo Walcott (Joe Hart was suspended).

Hummels, however, believes the gulf between Germany and England might be narrower than many think. "English football has just won the Champions League, surely that's OK? In 2010 it was down to Frank Lampard's 'goal'. If it had counted, Germany would have had a problem. It was good for us because it let us play on the counter-attack but you can't say Germany is better than England."

You can certainly say Germany is richer than Greece, tonight's quarter-final opponents in Gdansk. Those at Greek base camp in Legionowo, near Warsaw, have noted how little Greek media are present – few papers can afford to send journalists to Poland even for the "Debt Derby".

The irony is that half a dozen Greek players have links with Germany. Kyriakos Papadopoulos plays for Schalke, Sokratis Papastathopoulos plays for Werder Bremen and Konstantinos Fortounis is with Kaiserslautern. Olympiakos's Jose Holebas was born in Bavaria.

Hummels says: "They will be very defensive and try to make their counter-attacks with corners and free-kicks. We'll have plenty of the ball but it's important that we are not as slow as we were in the second half against Denmark ... and we needed some luck against Portugal."

It is different because we don't have so many senior players, even our captain is 28. We grew up together

Mats Hummels is only 23 but is now a key starter for Germany; (inset) he beats Denmark's Niki Zimling ap;getty