Former Bayern Munich and Germany striker Sandro Wagner is now in the coaching ranks for the youth German national teams (Bild). The 32-year old terminated his contract with Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda last year and hung up his playing boots for good, perhaps a little bit sooner than anyone had anticipated.
Now, he’s a strikers coach for the German U-16 national team and he also does punditry for DAZN on the side. All of this, of course, comes after two stints at Bayern Munich, the most recent of which came in January of 2018 to January of 2019, when Jupp Heynckes was manager and was then under Niko Kovac.
When Wagner was in Die Mannschaft’s setup along with Mario Gomez, that was one of the last times there were actually natural, outright strikers in the squad. Now, Joachim Low has a preference for pacey players up front like Timo Werner and Luca Waldschmidt, who are a different type of forward than Wagner or Gomez. When Wagner was asked about this shift from classic, more traditional strikers to pacier players, he said that part of it has to do with the way the game has been evolving: “For a long period of time we had missed out on promoting certain types of players. More emphasis was placed on the collective and tactical. The classic center forward fell a bit - also due to certain trends in the national team or among top European teams without playing a real nine.”
Because of the way the game is collectively changing, Wagner continued, it’s necessary for the German national team to have these types of younger, quicker players in the setup so that they can compete on the world stage: “You have noticed almost everywhere that it would not work in the long run without this type of player. That it is easier to calculate and that certain variants, for example in the game opening, are omitted. That is why the DFB is again increasingly relying on the individual development of real strikers. Really cool players will follow! I also think that’s extremely important for German football.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we still really haven’t seen a Germany side firing on all cylinders. Because the schedule for international matches has been so warped and the Euros were pushed back to the summer of 2021, Low still has plenty of time to get everything right ahead of the summer. Consistency will be key in all of their performances prior, even when Low might want to experiment with the squad a little bit.