The midfielder has credited the resurgence of German clubs in the competition to the quality of academies in his homeland
The Real Madrid midfielder has applauded youth football in Germany, admiring the dedication and success of academies in his homeland in their production of players.
This season marks the first time since 2002 in which there two German sides (Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund) have reached the quarter-finals. Schalke nearly made it three, but a 4-3 aggregate defeat to Galatasaray saw them exit the competition in the last 16.
“It is not a coincidence or luck,” he told Uefa.com. “Schalke almost reached the quarter-finals. They were just a bit inexperienced. Dortmund and Bayern are very strong, not only last season but also this, and they play very well at European level. It is [thanks to] the continuous development in German football.
“The academies and the league give a great football education. Germany had been asleep for many years, but recently they have tried to continuously build things up. It’s bearing fruit, not only with producing great players but also great tactics and discipline. And in the end that package makes a great team.”
The 25-year-old is preparing for a Champions League clash of his own with Madrid set to take on Galatasaray on Wednesday in the first-leg of their quarter-final and he outlined the differences between domestic and European football.
“I think that you must be very consistent in your game. You must deliver top performances throughout the season on a certain day. In La Liga you can allow yourself a mistake, but in the Champions League you must be well prepared for that day against your opponent.”