Germany’s U17 has won the 2023 World Cup, beating France 4-3 after penalties 2-2 in regular time. Paris Brunner (29’) and Noah Darvich (51’) scored for Germany; Saimon Bouabré (53’) and Mathis Amougou (85’) scored for France. Both Konstantin Heide for Germany and Paul Argney for France stopped two penalties, but because Nhoa Sangui missed the net entirely, it was the Germans who would be victorious in the penalty shootout.
Overall, it was a deserved result. After all, Germany was up 2-0, and it was only after Winners Osawe was sent off for Germany that France seemed like the team that would walk away with the victory. It was in the 20 minutes plus 10 minutes of injury time that Germany, however, showed the sort of mentality that has guided them all the way to the World Cup win.
“We are not just World Cup winners but also European Champions,” Germany head coach Christian Wück said to FIFA+ after the game. Wück then highlighted the incredible mentality the team showed throughout the tournament.
Wück is right to be proud of this team. Whether it was against Argentina in the semifinal, where the team won on penalties after conceding a late equalizer (4-2 after penalties) or in the quarterfinal against Spain, where the team fought hard for a 1-0 win, Germany showed the sort of attributes that have been for decades been associated with the senior team.
The so-called Deutsche Tugenden, or German virtues, have been a big discussion point in German media in recent months. As a result, the run of the U17 has captivated a nation desperate for a national team to captivate the country.
Indeed, mentality and the display of good old German virtues were also the talking points when Germany’s basketball team won and the ice hockey team finished second at the respective World Championships earlier this year. Both the basketball team and the ice hockey team played well, not because they had the best individual players but because they put together excellent teams.
That’s perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this U17 team. Although France, Argentina and Spain also have excellent talents, an argument can be made that Germany at this tournament had the best team but also the best individual players and that even though mega talent Assan Ouédraogo missed the majority of the tournament with an injury.
Instead, other players filled the gap left by the Schalke midfielder. First and foremost, Borussia Dortmund forward Paris Brunner finished the tournament with five goals and one assist and was voted the best player of the tournament. Then there was goalkeeper Heide, who was the backup until the semifinal but then the hero in the penalty shootouts against Argentina and France.
Those two are not the only standouts. Noah Darvich was signed from Barcelona from Freiburg for up to $5.5 million. The playmaker is considered a golden talent and has a $1.1 billion exit clause in his Barcelona contract.
Other standout players from this generation include Wolfsburg’s David Odogu and Dortmund’s Charles Herrmann, who didn’t feature in the final. However, several scouts have pointed out that this entire generation of German players has a significant depth of talent that compares favorably to the group that ended up winning the 2014 World Cup.
On top of the talent, what scouts also like about this generation is the mentality of wanting to win every game. The U17 highlighted that at both the European Championship in the spring and now at the World Cup. An attribute that was also engrained in the 2014 generation and something that has been lamented with the current generation of national team players.
Although the situation ahead of Germany hosting the European Championships next summer might be dire. The U17 has highlighted the future for an embattled Deutsche Fußball Bund (DFB) might be bright.
Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth and on Threads: @manuveth