If there is one man responsible for altering the image of German football from the cold-eyed trophy-winning machine to something prettier and, dare you say it, more fragile, it is Jürgen Klinsmann.
The 2006 World Cup was a sea change for German football. Their team attacked, they defended erratically and they entertained. They did not win the World Cup, they finished third, but more importantly, Klinsmann had made the world like German football.
It was a lesson he learned in England. "When I took the Germany job, six years ago, we developed a style of play that saw the team passing from the back, hitting balls to strikers – but England were already playing that way," he said.
"Joachim Löw [then his assistant] and myself often went to Premier League games and we tried to implement a style with more speed and creativity. And we still have a tremendous respect for the way England play. They showed what they can do during qualification, so we won't be looking at the evidence of the last three games. Joachim Löw knows exactly what England are capable of."
Klinsmann's management style borrows much from his years spent in California, with its emphasis on psychology, yoga and bringing in experts from outside the game. It provoked deep mistrust in the German camp and did not really work when Klinsmann attempted it at Bayern Munich. But its value was seen in 2006, in the European Championship under Löw and here in South Africa, which is generally no place for yoga.
In many ways, Miroslav Klose is the Emile Heskey of Germany. They share the same age, 32, a similar temperament and they have shared a similar season that has been mostly spent on the bench.
However, Klose comes alive in the World Cup – a competition in which only Gerd Müller among German strikers can compare with him, whereas Heskey has once more faded into the shadows. It is a question of confidence.
"Klose is an exceptional striker who needs a lot of support from the coaching staff," said Klinsmann. "He needs to talk, he needs to be given confidence and a build-up where the focus in on him. When you give that to a player, they respond to it.
"But at Bayern Munich he is in a different situation. Since I left Bayern just over a year ago, they bought in new players for a lot of money. They played them; Bayern were successful and Klose was on the bench. That meant he came to South Africa with his head down but he has raised it up now. He is the only one who can make a difference; he is similar to Wayne Rooney in that respect.
"With Philip Lahm as the leader of the group following Michael Ballack's horrible injury, this German team can prove they are on the same level as previous ones – and they might not have to win the World Cup to do it."Reuse content