Per Mertesacker: Klinsmann brought 'breath of fresh air' to Germany in '06
Jurgen Klinsmann was questioned by many when he elected to bring young players like Julian Green, John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin to the World Cup over more established, experienced veterans.
One of those moves, bringing Brooks, has already paid off, given his 86th-minute winner against Ghana in the USA's World Cup opener. As has been widely documented, Klinsmann did the same when managing Germany in 2006, turning to a younger generation of players to build the foundation for the future. One of those players, Per Mertesacker, gives credit to Klinsmann for having die Mannschaft in the place they are today.
"He was the first coach to place his trust in a very young generation, and in that respect he was a breath of fresh air for the DFB," Mertesacker told the German federation's official website. "We’re still continuing what Jurgen started, even now. Many of the same players from back then are still in the team, and [current manager] Jogi Low has developed over time too. We’re definitely still influenced by that period, so it’ll make the match against him and the USA very special."
Mertesacker, who plays for Arsenal, was 21 when Klinsmann entrusted him on the back line in the 2006 World Cup. He featured for Germany in South Africa in 2010 and started Germany's 4-0 win over Portugal to open Group G play on Monday. He is in line to receive his 100th cap on Saturday against Ghana.
Germany and the USA meet in their final match of group play. Depending on the outcome of results in the next two days, the match could be for knockout seeding purposes only. If Germany beats Ghana and the USA beats Portugal, Group G's two advancing teams will be decided.
The U.S. finally beat Ghana. Now what? SI's Grant Wahl and Brian Straus delve into where things stand for Jurgen Klinsmann's side.