Joachim Löw has admitted he has been "alarmed" by the performances of German clubs in European competition recently and has questioned whether the Bundesliga really is as good as it thinks it is.
Last week, all six German representatives in Europe lost in the space of three days - including Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Red Bull Leipzig in the Champions League and Hoffenheim, Cologne and Hertha Berlin in the Europa League.
"Those six games which were lost in international competition are certainly slightly alarming," admitted Löw ahead of the German national team's World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland in Belfast on Thursday evening and insisted that Germany can still do better – especially when it comes to promoting young talent.
"I've not just been thinking about it since last week but perhaps we can do better in our youth development," he said. "Those people who claim that Germany has the best talents in the world and only Germany has talented players are wrong – because it's not true."
Poor club record
Germany might be the reigning world champions in international football but Löw highlighted the relative lack of trophies won by German teams in international club competitions in recent years.
Indeed, since 1997, when Borussia Dortmund won the Champions League and Schalke won the UEFA Cup in the same season, Bayern Munich are the only German team to have won a European competition – the Champions League in 2001 and 2013, the latter in an all-German final against Dortmund. In the same period, Spanish clubs have won a total of 16 major European titles, English clubs have won eight and Italian clubs have won four.
"It's a bit of a misconception to say that just because we have a lot of young talents, we're going to win everything in future," Löw continued. "If you go back over this century, you have to say that Germany hasn't actually won that many titles in the past 16, 17 years."
"So when people say the Bundesliga is the best league in the world, perhaps they should ask themselves if that's really the case."Matt Ford