The future of Spanish football is looking bright indeed. Its under 21 team has just won the European Championship this year against Switzerland and it can be expected that from this team a number of players will progress to the senior stage and enlighten the international football stage in the years to come. The final in Aarhus was another demonstration of possession football that has been the talking point of the last few years. The only bitter point was the attendance: only 15000 watched the game. Considering this is the last youth stage before the professionals, this is pretty bleak in public interest.
In terms of public interest, Mexico have trumped Spain by winning the under 17 World Championship held this year in Mexico in front of almost 99.000 spectators! World Record! The affair was an entirely Latin American one as the hosts beat Uruguay in the final on Sunday. Germany came a respectable third after beating Brazil 4-3 in the third place play-off. This after being 3-1 down after 30 minutes, the Germans fought their way back into the game and securing the third spot on the podium. Somehow the third place seems to be the natural place for Germany as the seniors reached the same rank in the last two World Cups in 2006 and 2010. Their coach, former Borussia Dortmund defender Steffen Freund instructed his team to play fluid and attacking football unlike himself in his playing days, for which he was rather known as a Vinnie-Jones-type-of-player.
Another German ex-player, Christian Ziege, has not had the luck as his team, the under 19s have failed to qualify for the European Championship. In what has been labelled ‘golden generation’ many players have already gained valuable playing time with the pros and can call themselves experienced. Therefore to speak of another golden generation has come a little too early.
Of course success in the youth teams does not guarantee success in the senior teams or even selection into the senior squads but it does offer clues as to the future progress of players and does allow to think about coaching methods on this level which may be approved and then applied at senior stage.