Goal.com shines a light on Germany's new playmaking talent...
Club: Werder Bremen
The Germany squad for the 2010 World Cup boasts six graduates of last summer's under-21 European Championship campaign.
Four of the starting line-up which defeated England 4-0 in the final played for the senior side in Sunday's last-16 win against their old enemy, emphasising Germany's reputation as one of the greatest promotors of organic, under-age talent on the continent. In contrast, only one England player has made the step up to senior level in the past 12 months; James Milner.
Manuel Neuer has been the Bundesliga's best goalkeeper this season, keeping 15 clean sheets. Jerome Boateng has just sealed a move to Manchester City and Sami Khedira has looked comfortable at these finals as an understudy to Michael Ballack. However, it has been the form of Mesut Oezil that has pricked the ears at this World Cup.
The 21-year-old Werder Bremen playmaker has carried the creative threat of his nation and also serves as a poster boy for Die Nationalmannschaft's 'Generation M'.
Born in Gelsenkirchen, Oezil is derived from Turkish roots but is emblematic of the new inclusivity of the German team, successfully marrying the culture of his parentage with the land in which he has grown up.
He told reporters before the tournament: "My technique and feeling for the ball is the Turkish side to my game. The discipline, attitude and always-give-your-all is the German part."
On the scoresheet | Oezil sends Germany through with a goal against Ghana
And it is those assets that have led the slender No.8 to become the heir apparent to the likes of Wolfgang Overath and Thomas Haessler: a genuine playmaker, which is a commodity the Germans have been lacking for a decade or more.
Able to dribble, he also has an eye for a pass, is elusive and is not afraid to take his chances on goal. Australia were ripped to shreds by the Germans on matchday one and this was, in no small part, due to the string-pulling of Oezil.
Although the Serbia game failed to bring out the best in him, the final group encounter against Ghana served to illustrate his match-winning capabilities. A lashed shot into the corner of Richard Kingson's net set-up a delectable last 16 match-up with the old enemy, England.
And the Three Lions' assistant manager, Stuart Pearce, will know what that means. It was the former left-back who led the under-21 team to the European final last summer, only to be swept away by Oezil, Sandro Wagner & Co.
Oezil scored that day and made two more goals. His ability to cut in from wide and dictate the tempo of German attacks from central areas was well known at under-age levels and is beginning to shine through for the seniors too.
Now Fabio Capello knows how his assistant feels, as Oezil tore apart the senior England side in Sunday's 4-1 thrashing, setting up Germany's third, and giving the Three Lions' defence all sorts of problems all game long.
The October World Cup qualifier, a tussle with Russia in Moscow for supremacy in the group, saw Oezil deployed by Joachim Low in at the deep-end, and as far as international football is concerned, Oezil was magical. He assisted a goal and struck the post, claiming the Man of the Match accoldae in one of the toughest away fixtures in the schedule.
That brought Oezil to the attention of those who had not watched him every week in the Bundesliga. The attacker has seamlessly filled the breach in the Green-Whites' line-up that was left by Diego's departure to Juventus. Despite that high-profile exit, Werder Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf has, arguably, a better all-round player in Oezil.
They will have a job on their hands preventing him from leaving at the end of the current contract, which expires in 2011.
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