Bierhoff: Germany can top weary Spain at Euro 2012
Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff hopes Spain’s players
will be too tired after a grueling club season to defend their
European Championship title next year, when he expects his squad to
reach its peak.
Germany’s vibrant, young side reached the semifinals at last
year’s World Cup before losing to Spain, which followed its Euro
2008 triumph by capturing the global crown.
But Bierhoff, who oversees the development of the national game
in Germany, doesn’t anticipate the Spanish being as strong at Euro
”Spain is for sure at the moment the best team in the world,”
Bierhoff said on the sidelines of the SoccerEx conference in
Manchester. ”Hopefully, perhaps in another year, the players
having success with Barcelona and other teams are getting a little
bit tired, a little bit older.
”We have a very young team, but we know that when you start a
tournament you start from scratch.”
The fact that more than 50 percent of players in the Bundesliga
have come up through club youth systems has created a greater
competition for places for the national team, which also reached
the 2006 World Cup semifinals.
”I can see the difference in our players from 2006 to 2010, the
young players coming now are better technically educated, more used
to the media, physically much better,” Bierhoff said. ”In 2006 we
still had problems with a lack of speed and technical issues. With
these young players you can see they have had a good education in
the clubs’ technical centers.”
But Bierhoff, whose goal clinched Germany’s win in the Euro ’96
final, is concerned that the Champions League has overtaken the
World Cup as the ”pinnacle” for players.
”Financially, 20 years ago it was more important for a player
to play in the national team than now,” the former AC Milan
striker said. ”Now he gets very well paid by his club and the club
has a huge interest in him not getting injured, the Champions
League is becoming more and more important.
”(The national teams) don’t pay our players anywhere near what
they get for their clubs so it is more a matter of pride at being
selected among the 20-23 best players in the country.”
Players are also too focused on making money out of commercial
”They get more tired psychologically – we see it with our
players now with all these things around; media, personal sponsors,
club sponsors,” Bierhoff said. ”The peak for the top players is
becoming narrower and narrower. Once you had a 10-year career at
the top and the brilliant players did it at the World Cup.
”Now, after three or four or five years, it seems like the
player is gone. Look at Ronaldinho, Ronaldo (of Brazil) and other
Bierhoff along with coach Joachim Loew introduced a disciplinary
code designed to stop players becoming ”spoilt brats.”
”After training they would just come in and throw their dirty
shirts and socks and shorts down and leave it for the kit man to
tidy up,” he said. ”Now they do it themselves. They turn their
shirts inside out, they put all the socks and shorts together.
”We needed to change the atmosphere after Euro 2004. It had
seemed to the people that the players didn’t want to play for the
team, that it was not fun. But in Germany the national team is an
icon, it is the property of the people so we needed the players to
be able to bond together. We helped them develop responsibilities
to help them grow as people because we wanted them to respect not
only their fellow players but the staff who worked with them.”
Germany was beaten on Tuesday for the first time since last
year’s loss to Spain at South Africa 2010, with Australia winning
the friendly 2-1.
”The strategy of the coaches is to try to introduce younger
players at a moment when you are not forced to introduce them so
they have time to grow and develop,” Bierhoff said.