DORTMUND, Germany (Reuters) - When Germany advanced to the 2010 World Cup semi-finals with four-goal wins over England and Argentina it became clear something special was brewing in German football.
Fast forward three years and two more four-goal thrashings for German sides this week showed the nation's international comeback looks to have jumped on another stage.
Borussia Dortmund gave Real Madrid a lesson in attacking football on Wednesday, crushing the nine-times European champions 4-1 in their Champions League semi-final first leg 24 hours after Bayern Munich's 4-0 demolition of Barcelona.
The duo are heavy favourites to make it a first all-German Champions League final, which would guarantee an end to the country's 12-year wait to lift the famous trophy.
Much of the success can be credited to a move which came a year after Bayern defeated Valencia on penalties in 2001 to win a fourth title.
Fed up with a lack of international success, youth academies became a prerequisite in 2002 for all first and second division German clubs.
More than 700 million euros (594.79 million pounds) has been pumped in to youth work nationwide since with Dortmund's fledgling side showing the investment has clearly paid off.
Germany internationals Mats Hummels, Marco Reus, Mario Goetze, Marcel Schmelzer, Ilkay Guendogan and Sven Bender all mesmerised with their attacking game on Wednesday as the expensively assembled Real side had no answer.
None of the six took part in the last World Cup as they were too young, but their emergence bodes well for the national team and perhaps justifies why the German Football Association (DFB) picked Dortmund as the venue for their national football museum which will open in 2014.
All the talk before Wednesday's clash had been on another Dortmund youth academy product, though, after the club agreed to sell Mario Goetze to Bayern the day before for a reported 37 million euros.
Dortmund, however, were unfazed as striker Robert Lewandowski fired four goals to leave them dreaming of a second Champions League title and Real stunned as their hopes of a 10th look to have been postponed for another year.
"Dortmund were the better team, mentally and physically and they deserved to win," Real coach Jose Mourinho told reporters, who were more eager for him to talk about Dortmund than his own team.
"Germany has developed a very good generation of players at the moment," Mourinho added.
Dortmund also beat Real in the group stages this year, all part of their unbeaten run in the tournament this season, but bosses at the German club were eager to keep their players grounded.
"We have kicked open the doors that lead to Wembley but we still need to slide through them a week from now," said Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann. Editing by Patrick Johnston)