Marcus Sorg is responsible for implanting a national identity and philosophy rather than a playing system. "We primarily aim to dominate matches and take the initiative," he maintains. "The main objective is the development of individual players within a framework of high-level organisation in our collective play." After the final in Budapest, he added: "The team succeeded in expressing its football philosophy very well – and that made me happy."
Despite the emphasis on the continuity of national characteristics, Sorg is a newcomer to the Under-19 arena. He had a spell as head coach at SC Freiburg in 2011, but the bulk of his coaching CV is dedicated to player development levels, culminating with a year as coach of FC Bayern München's U17 squad prior to joining the DFB in 2013. His experience at club level stood him in good stead in terms of making the U19s an efficient unit. "We are in continuous contact with the clubs," he explains. "I visit them frequently, we coordinate regularly and things work well."
It meant that Germany played no preparation matches. "It was a compromise allowing the players to remain longer with their clubs and do their preparation there. Many of our players were playing in the Bundesliga, with a few still in the youth league. The Bundesliga is important in their lives, so we need to establish an emotional bond with the national team. It's important for them to feel good and, if they don't want to come, we don't need them."
To compensate for the lack of preparation games, Sorg and his staff focused on team meetings featuring video analysis of training sessions as well as the matches played en route to Hungary – all accompanied by explanations aimed at helping the players to assimilate the team philosophy. Selection criteria are clear: "I look for players who have a hunger and who show potential for the future. Players with technical ability who can run a lot and are quick. You don't really see slow players any more and, at the final tournament, I was impressed by excellent athletic qualities and technical skills in practically all of the teams."
For Sorg, development and winning are part of the same package. "Development is the most important thing," he says, "but, in many cases, this can only be achieved through results. Winning is important – that's the reality. That is why we insist on attacking football. We cannot always be successful, but the basic aim is always to dominate and dictate how the game develops."
"Coupled with all this," he adds, "comes our traditional mentality, discipline, collective organisation and the ability to win the individual duels that we cannot shrink away from. This generation has a variety of cultural backgrounds but generally have parents who grew up in Germany and possess the traditional German traits."
Sorg's educational agenda includes the ability to cohabit as a group during a major tournament. "During matches we expect maximum organisation and discipline," he comments. "Between matches, the players have a lot of freedom. They have the responsibility to organise their free time themselves and work out their own programmes. They are adult enough for this and, amid all the 'do this' and 'don't do that', they need a degree of freedom."
In Hungary, the players responded. "I was happy that the team showed so much quality," he admits, "that they learned very quickly and that they demonstrated on the pitch the things we expected from them. And I was very happy that we were the winners."