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
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus updates from Everton vs Palace
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam