Low looks to learn from flexible Chile
Joachim Low eager to broaden his horizons
Germany coach has observed Chile for several years
Versatility and positional interchange held in high regard
By Steffen Potter with Germany
Should world champions have role models?
While that particular term is not one Joachim Low would presumably use, it has not stopped him from looking at what other countries are doing.
The Germany head coach has always liked to broaden his horizons. During the last decade he has undoubtedly looked to Spain for inspiration, with La Roja the dominant force in world football over that period. That much is highlighted by the possession-based, short-passing game Low's side employ today, even if it is with their own added flavour.
But should Germany orient themselves on other nations, and learn by watching them too? For Low, there is no debate.
Stasis amounts to the same as taking a backwards step. Both in the run-up to UEFA EURO 2016, and at the tournament itself, he repeatedly stressed that his team needed to keep developing – and not only in terms of playing personnel.
It is fitting, therefore, that it is another Roja that has particularly caught the eye of the coach of the reigning world champions. "We've been observing Chile closely for a few years – even back in 2010 they played with a very special system," said Low on the eve of his team's second FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 group game against that very same Chile side, who qualified for the competition as South American champions.**
There is one characteristic in particular that has intrigued Low, a characteristic that he has repeatedly, and publicly, stated over the last few years as being a necessary component of his team's development.
"Chile are unbelievably flexible, more so than perhaps any other team," he said effusively. "They're very unpredictable. Their play is variable, but the way they play is well thought-out. It's not arbitrary, they constantly change positions."
That is not mere lip service from Low; there is genuine respect and a real interest in what the South Americans have done in recent years. "They're so flexible that sometimes you can't even say what positions the players are in," he continued. "They cover a lot of ground and they'll go from being at the back defending to suddenly being up front scoring a goal. You have to track those runs with them."
It is safe to assume that this desired tactical flexibility – be it structured positional changes or variable formation switches – will remain the focus of Germany's training sessions as they look to defend their crown at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
Low had another clear message for the players currently with him in Russia, given Chile's strength in the tackle: "Be strong in the challenges, and that means winning the ball. That's smart. And don't commit fouls."