Who will be 2012-13's Reus, Moritz & Ter Stegen? The possible breakout stars of the new Bundesliga season


ANALYSIS
By Enis Koylu

Since the radical re-think in Germany’s approach to youth development in the wake of the national team’s failure at Euro 2000, the Bundesliga has seen a multitude of young talents emerge, with many of them establishing themselves at both club and international level.

But there is a whole new generation breaking through. Die Mannschaft‘s youth ranks have been in impressive form in recent tournaments, and the country’s top flight will soon be awash with a fresh batch of talent to complement the current crop.

And Goal.com are here to take a look at some of the players who could make a name for themselves in the Bundesliga in 2012-13, following in the footsteps of the stars.

Alaba has long been touted with a big future in the game, but it was only last year that he began to take massive strides, and the Austrian now looks to have sealed his place in Jupp Heynckes’ starting XI. A midfielder by trade, Bayern’s full-back woes eventually led to the 20-year-old being shifted to the left side of defence.

And the change paid instant dividends. Bayern were able to halt a run of sub-par performances, and their good form carried them through to the Champions League final. He was unfortunate to miss the clash with Chelsea through suspension, but showcased his maturity by tucking home a penalty against Real Madrid in the semi-final, having already picked up a heartbreaking yellow card.

Having sustained a pre-season injury, he will miss the early part of 2012-13, but will hope to return as soon as possible and establish himself as one of the Bundesliga’s elite full-backs.



Amid the horror show that was Bayer Leverkusen’s 7-1 loss to Barcelona at Camp Nou in March, there was one bright spark: a young attacker by the name of Karim Bellarabi.

After Lionel Messi had made everyone perfectly aware of the gulf in quality between the two sides, the Germany Under-21 striker made his way from the bench, and scored a spectacular 90th minute strike so Robin Dutt’s side had something to show for their 3,400 kilometre round trip.

With Eren Derdiyok leaving the BayArena for Hoffenheim this summer, and Stefan Kiessling’s form perennially fluctuating, the 22-year-old will receive more playing time, and should be able to truly announce himself to a Bundesliga audience.

While it seems like an age since Julian Draxler took his first strides into the Schalke first team, the Germany international is still astonishingly young. Throughout last season, he balanced his footballing career with academic commitments, but has since finished school, and won his first cap for his country.

With Raul departed and Tranquillo Barnetta being snapped up on a free transfer, Draxler is widely expected to shift inside to take the Spaniard’s slot behind Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. A big ask, you might say, but having spent over a year in the public eye, the 18-year-old prodigy seems more than capable of shouldering the burden.

And who knows? Perhaps he could even help Schalke to their first national title since 1958.

Mehmet Ekici enjoyed a modest first season at Werder Bremen after moving to the Weserstadion last summer from Nurnberg, but after a summer of change at the club, he can be expected to step into a key role in the coming campaign as Thomas Schaaf looks to put his faith in youth.

Prior to a season-ending injury at the beginning of April, the Turkey international, who represented Germany at youth level, was showing signs of improvement, Still, his latter performances have been rewarded with the No.10 shirt.

If Bremen are to achieve their goal of re-establishing themselves amongst Germany’s elite, the 22-year-old will surely be critical to their plans.

While Marco Reus stole the headlines with his performances for Borussia Monchengladbach last year, he was aided by a very able supporting cast. Juan Arango and Mike Hanke were already known quantities, but Patrick Herrmann surprised everyone.

A tricky winger with a fantastic cross, he was devastating for Lucien Favre’s side at times, not least in their commanding 3-1 victory over Bayern Munich in January, and was touted with a potential call-up to Germany’s preliminary squad for Euro 2012.

The nod from Low did not come, but with the likes of Luuk de Jong and Granit Xhaka joining the Foals’ squad, he may well win his place in the national side over the course of next season.

Another star to leave Borussia Park for pastures new after Gladbach’s extraordinary 2011-12 season was Roman Neustadter. However, with the acquisition of former Basel player Xhaka, the Schalke-bound midfielder does not seem to be a loss by any stretch of the imagination.

The 19-year-old was a key cog in the side that shocked Manchester United in the Champions League. He was chased by a host of Bundesliga clubs going into the new season, but his compatriot Lucien Favre has managed to convince him that his future lies at Borussia Park.

With a young set of team-mates, and an ambitious, well-run club, the stage is set for Xhaka to set Germany alight in the coming seasons.

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Germany lack a footballing identity, admits Sammer


Bayern Munich sporting director Matthias Sammer has claimed that Germany lack a true footballing identity.

Die Mannschaft have not won a major trophy since Euro 1996 campaign, and the former sweeper is struggling to characterise German football when compared to fellow contemporaries such as Spain and Italy.

“Do Germany actually have a footballing identity at the moment? Apart from saying we’ve got some good lads coming through? I don’t see one. Right now, I can’t really define our football,” Sammer told reporters.

“You can define Spain, Italy and some other nations, but I’m having problems with Germany. What do we stand for?

“At the moment it’s for good young players, but overall, we could restart work on our footballing identity, because we should always look reality straight in the eye.

“I think we’re heading in a very good direction, but we still need the courage to keep working on what it means.

“Obviously, we have to take note of a couple of facts. With the exception of youth teams, it’s a while since we’ve won an international trophy.”

Germany were beaten 3-1 by Argentina in Wednesday’s international friendly.

Martinez set for record-breaking move to Bayern Munich


Javi Martinez is set to complete a €40m move to Bayern Munich, Goal.com can confirm.

The Spain international has long been linked with a move to the Allianz Arena, with the Bavarians looking to bolster their midfield options ahead of the start of the new season.

The transfer was triggered after Bayern activated a €40m buy-out clause in Martinez’s contract, despite Die Roten apparently being reluctant to meet the fee – a German transfer record.

It appears that Martinez was keen on the move being finalised however, as under the terms of the deal he will allegedly give up €2m of his annual salary.

The versatile 23 year-old, who can play either as a central midfielder or defender, will sign a five-year contract, meaning he stands to lose €10m overall.

Bayern have already added Claudio Pizarro, Mario Mandzukic and Xherdan Shaqiri to their ranks this summer, as they look to wrestle the Bundesliga title from Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern were also hoping to sign Bayer Leverkusen midfieler Lars Bender during the summer transfer window, only for both player and club to rebuff their advances.

Staudt accuses Hoeness of 'throwing the hammer' at Mario Gomez


Erwin Staudt has slammed Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness’ criticism of Germany striker Mario Gomez,

Hoeness had earlier questioned the 27-year-old’s ability, claiming that if he was as good as his reputation suggested, Jupp Hyenckes men would have already succeeded in lifting the Champions League.

Former Stuttgart chairman Staudt, whom Gomez had previously won the Bundesliga with in 2006-07, insisted such hardline methods of motivation were unnecessary.

“We all know Gomez’s potential,” blasted Staudt to TZ. “Throwing the hammer at him is needless and unnecessary, to say the least.”

“Yes, it admittedly might be a newer form of motivation aimed at spurring him on, but Mario is a really good guy who knows what he’s got.”

Gomez suffered a recurrence of an ankle injury in the Liga Total! Cup against Werder Bremen and is expected to be out for up to eight weeks.

Vogts: Germany were the best team at Euro 2012


Berti Vogts has leaped forward in defence of beleaguered Germany manager Joachim Low, after the latter was criticised following his failure to guide the vaunted Die Mannschaft beyond the semi-finals of Euro 2012.

The current Azerbaijan national team coach led his country in a fruitful eight-year period that lasted from 1990 to 1998, which culminated in a Jurgen Klinsmann-inspired Germany clinching the 1996 European Finals.

And Vogts, 65, has praised the courage of both his former charge and current manager Low in their efforts to pioneer a new era for Germany, although admitting work still needs to be done.

“Even after he [Low] walks on water, his critics always find a way to remind him he can’t swim,” sighed the former Borussia Monchengladbach defender to German publication WAZ. “Thanks to him, we have a generation of players that plays very elegantly.”

“Everything both he and Klinsmann have done should be honoured. Discussions about his suitability for the Germany job should never have arisen. We were the best team of Euro 2012 until the last hurdle.

“We should have made it to the final, but we made things too easy for the Italians. Approaching the World Cup in Brazil, I’d put us at only about 80 percent readiness, but our players would already have learnt something from this competition.”

Bundesliga runners-up Bayern Munich defeated champions Borussia Dortmund on Sunday during the German Supercup, and Vogts has tipped a close fight for this season’s title.

“Jupp Heynckes and Matthias Sammer at Bayern make for a great pairing, while Jurgen Klopp is the father of Dortmund’s success, helped along by general manager [Hans-Joachim] Watzke’s presence.

“Both will battle it out for the championship, though it will no longer be so easy for Dortmund. Don’t expect it to be anymore the case when Dortmund beat Bayern three times in one season.”

Klopp overcame counterpart Heynckes twice in the league the previous season, before ousting the Bavarian giants further in the DFB-Pokal final.