With Joachim Löw extending his contract to the end of Germany's FIFA World Cup defence in 2018, UEFA.com explores the keys to the 55-year-old's success.
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Joachim Löw, the reigning FIFA World Coach of the Year who won the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Germany, has extended his contract by two years until 2018.
Löw has overseen great success since taking over the reins in 2006, leading the side to runners-up spot at UEFA EURO 2008 and the semi-finals of UEFA EURO 2012 and the 2010 World Cup. Germany's success in Brazil last summer had certainly been coming. UEFA.com explores ten reasons for the 55-year-old's success.
1. Youth development
After Germany finished UEFA EURO 2000 bottom of their group with an aging squad, youth development in the country was radically overhauled. Those changes soon brought youth titles and there is now plenty of young talent on display in the senior side.
Key players like Toni Kroos, Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil, Marco Reus and Mario Götze may not yet be at the peak of their careers and the next generation of players, featuring Julian Draxler, Max Meyer, Maximilian Arnold and Niklas Süle, are already knocking on the door. Hardly surprising then that Löw says "our young team still hasn't reached the end of its development."
2. New tactical approach
As assistant to Jürgen Klinsmann at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Löw played a part in helping update the national team's approach. Concepts were modernised and while 'German virtues' were not abandoned, a more entertaining and attacking style was instilled. It is a path he has continued along, riding the setbacks and occasional opposition.
3. Perfect platform
The national team's environment also underwent a big change prior to the 2006 World Cup, instigated by the German Football Association (DFB). A "national team caretaker" was appointed for the first time in the form of Oliver Bierhoff, and the expenditure and operations surrounding the team were substantially increased. That step attracted its critics but ultimately it has paid off.
Löw prefers pragmatism. He has always followed a certain playing style with the Germany national team, though he has adjusted based on circumstances. He switched from the familiar 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 for the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2008 against Portugal, a formation that has been the basis for the national team ever since. Germany went into the 2010 World Cup carrying low expectations, yet Löw's young side excited with fast and deadly counterattacking football.
Spain once again proved to be the stumbling block in South Africa, and the focus turned more to the Spanish possession football and tiki-taka style for UEFA EURO 2012. That is how they approached the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup as well before surprisingly going with a 4-3-3 at the finals, with a back four generally consisting entirely of central defenders until Philipp Lahm reverted to right-back later in the tournament.
5. Sum of its parts
Löw always manages to deal with losing players seamlessly, as his charges know exactly what their job is in his system. While Brazil were almost in mourning ahead of that World Cup semi-final following injury to star player Neymar, there was barely any mention in the German camp that Löw's side were without their most in-form player going into the tournament in Marco Reus (16 goals and 14 assists in the 2013/14 Bundesliga). We all know what happened when they met.
6. What does not kill us ...
The current Germany team has been years in the making. It has not all been plain sailing but the near misses along the way only served to increase a sense of unity. It was important for the side's make-up that the FC Bayern München players that lost the UEFA Champions League final in their own stadium in 2012 bounced back and lifted the trophy a year later. They brought a winning mentality into the national team.
7. The right focus
Löw has managed to inject the right level of focus into his players, which was important in the successful Germany sides of yesteryear. They have always looked at the bigger picture – after the historical victory over Brazil, the team did not celebrate wildly as they knew there was still a final to come, and the players' humble gestures after the game earned them the respect of the Brazilians.
8. Faith repaid
Löw stuck by long-term injured players such as Miroslav Klose and Schweinsteiger as they played a central role in his plans. They repaid his faith with crucial goals (Klose) and incredible performances at key moments (Schweinsteiger in the World Cup final).
9. Tough decisions
Löw has not been afraid to make tough and unpopular decisions. He did not include Mario Gomez in his 2014 World Cup squad, also leaving out one of the most successful German goalscorers in the Bundesliga in recent years, Stefan Kiessling (56 league goals in 100 games between 2011 and 2014). Kiessling did not fit into his plan and Löw stuck to his guns.
10. Dealing with the players
Former VfB Stuttgart boss Löw is not a disciplinarian who constantly demands to have his players under his control. He makes it clear where the line is and reacts when players cross it, but otherwise he gives his players freedom and trusts they will behave like professionals – that goes down well within the team and makes for a good working environment during long tournaments.