It's a sprint, not a marathon, as 'Jogi' presses fast forward to put Germany ahead of the rest

Coach Löw's methods have changed the nature of national side's game to produce a slick machine

Warsaw

Cast your mind back to Euro 96 and an image of Dieter Eilts may appear. The stocky midfielder did not gladden the eye like Jürgen Klinsmann or Karel Poborsky, but for three weeks he was the most important footballer in England. Powerful, disciplined and selfless, Eilts – with the likes of Stefan Kuntz and Oliver Bierhoff – epitomised the character of a footballing nation. And in the end the Germans won.

That nation has changed utterly. The process began to be widely recognised seven years ago, during the Confederations Cup, in which Germany practised hosting the World Cup with a coltish willingness to attack that some of us ascribed to the difference in personality between Klinsmann and, say, the old-school graduate Berti Vogts, who had managed his country to ultimate triumph over the Czechs at Wembley in 1996.

It was a superficial theory. Klinsmann supervised the new philosophy's introduction but its principal architect was Joachim ''Jogi'' Löw, his then assistant and now successor. Löw guided Germany to the European final in 2008. By 2010, having blended in the products of revamped Bundesliga academies, some of whom had become European Under-21 champions, Löw had built a team lively enough to beat England 4-1 in the World Cup, albeit with luck when Frank Lampard's goal was not allowed.

The impression that their best days were to come has survived a build-up to this tournament that included a 5-3 defeat by Switzerland. Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira – your Germans seldom have names like Dieter these days – have become even brighter stars at Real Madrid. Mario Gomez has supplanted Miroslav Klose and Mats Hummels edged out Per Mertesacker. Thomas Müller is again hinting at top class. And among those unable to command a shirt are Toni Kroos and the lavishly gifted young Mario Gotze.

There is no equivalent of Eilts. Worthy though he was, the Germans now expect slick passing and movement from everyone between the goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, and the arch-predator Gomez. Bastian Schweinsteiger, who holds in midfield, is a fine distributor of the ball.

If Spain did not exist, aesthetes would hardly pine as long as Löw and his team were there to lead flair's procession (not that Germany alone have entertained us in this highly enjoyable tournament).

Like many an outstanding coach, the 52-year-old Löw, who returned to Germany to help Klinsmann after a club career that featured Fenerbahce and Austria Vienna among others, often seems to speak in tangents. Until you realise how rigorous a researcher he is.

During the Confederations Cup he responded to a victory by saying how pleased he was that the players had committed so few fouls (no doubt he had analysed the adverse effect of free-kicks conceded), and the other day he willingly answered someone who had asked if he stood by a 2010 description of football as a sport ''defined by a succession of sprints''.

Low said: ''It is like that now, more than ever before. Generally speaking, the tempo of the game has increased. People do an awful lot of running now and the way that has traditionally been interpreted is to say that the team who runs more wins the game. Our analysis, though, has shown that that view is too superficial. Our focus now is on what kind of sprints players make, where they do it, how they do it and in what direction.

''Emotionally speaking, sprints forward have much better connotations than running back. We ran a lot against Switzerland but the runs were all backwards, so they had very negative emotional connotations. If you are going forward, you forget how much you have run and how fast you have done. It doesn't hurt as much to sprint forwards.''

A relish for detail is, of course, only part of Löw. Though fortunate in having been in charge of the national team when the academies bore their first fruit, he has applied brilliant man-management to the task of subjugating egos; that his players like where he is taking them is obvious from the way they perform together.

Maybe qualification requires a point, at most, from tonight's match with Denmark. Then it's onward, upward – and fast forward.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
Life and Style
health
News
i100
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?