Jakarta, Surakarta, Berlin (7/12 – 11)
Amid a generally declining period for Germany’s national football team, the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Indonesia has been a shining light for them. Germany is one of the most successful national teams ever in international competition. They have won four World Cups (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014), three European Championships (1972, 1980, 1996), and a Confederations Cup (2017). Nevertheless, in recent years, Germany is suffering a horrid fate.
In 2018, Germany suffered their first-ever first-round exit from the World Cup, since 1938. Germany became the fifth defending champions to be eliminated in the group stages of the World Cup, following Brazil in 1966, France in 2002, Italy in 2010, and Spain in 2014. Again, they were knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage for the second consecutive tournament in 2022.
At the UEFA European Championship in 2020, Germany also fell short. They only managed to reach the round of 16. At the UEFA Nations League, Germany consecutively finished 11th in 2018-2019, 8th in 2020-2021, and 10th in 2022-2023.
This year, poor performances persist, confirming that Germany is in a long decline. They lost six times and only won three times in eleven matches throughout the year. Julian Nagelsmann was installed as new Head Coach on 22 September 2023, but lost to Turkey and Austria last month in his first two games.
In the middle of this crisis, there is finally good news for Germany, from their participation in the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Last Saturday, Germany were victorious in the final against France. They lifted the trophy after a hard-fought game, which ended 2-2 in regulation time. Germany went on to beat France 4-3 in a penalty shootout at Manahan Stadium, Surakarta, Central Java.
For the first time in history, Germany was crowned as world champions at the U-17 level, completing their World Cup trophies at senior and U-20 level. These young Germans show that they have a lot of potential. They were unbeaten throughout the World Cup tournament in Indonesia.
Worth noting that six months earlier, this team also won the 2023 UEFA European U-17 Championship. Germany has become the first nation to win the UEFA European U-17 Championship and U-17 World Cup in the same year. Some of their players shone and could be counted as stars for the future. Forward Paris Brunner received the Golden Ball award as the best player in the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Brunner followed in the footsteps of his fellow countryman Toni Kroos, who won the coveted award in 2007.
If Kroos manages to go on and become the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner, nobody can write Brunner off for not achieving the same. Midfielder and captain Noah Darvich already made a notable name, as Barcelona recruited him in August.
Max Moerstedt, Robert Ramsak, Bilal Yalcinkaya, Eric da Silva Moreira, David Odogu, Maximilian Henning, and Charles Hermann are several other players that could form the backbone of the German national team in the next ten years. “We have got players with incredible talent who also have a great mentality. This combination makes anything possible,” Germany’s coach Christian Wuck said.
Obviously, it’s still a long way for Noah Darvich and Co to prove their worth in the next steps, because success at the youth level doesn’t often translate into success for the first team. Nevertheless, the U-17 team’s accomplishment in Indonesia definitely brings hope that there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel that Germany is in right now.