Germany’s Talent Show: Musiala and Wirtz Shine in Scotland Rout

Germany’s Talent Show: Musiala and Wirtz Shine in Scotland Rout

England don’t have a monopoly on young attacking talent here at Euro 2004 and Scotland are now painfully aware of it. Steve Clarke’s team were dismantled by the cleverness and intelligence of Germany’s football in Munich and if the host nation carry on in this fashion, there may pain for plenty of others further down the line.

Yes, this was only Scotland it was not even good Scotland. No this was not the version that played so well in qualifying, beating Spain and Norway and losing only once. This was the reincarnation that came in to his tournament having won only once – against Gibraltar – in their last nine game.

So judgements made about Germany have to be tempered by that. Scotland’s supporters turned up but their players didn’t, not really.

However, if so much fuss is being made about the front four that will line up for Gareth Southgate’s England team against Serbia on Sunday then Germany have a gilded quartet of their own. 

Two are familiar to us. Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz are known to us from playing football in the Premier League. The other two are Bundesliga boys, Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz the dashing playmakers around whom the Germans hope to build their national team over the next decade.

Germany could have a gilded quartet to take Euro 2024 by storm, with Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz part of it 

Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz are the dashing playmakers Germany hope to build around

Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz are the dashing playmakers Germany hope to build around 

Musiala, of Bayern Munich, was born to an English father in Stuttgart, grew up in Croydon and was on Chelsea’s books until he was 16. He could have played for England but chose the country of his birth. 

The 21-year-old was outstanding here and the game’s best player. Nominally playing on the right he drifted through the wide green acres of the Scotland midfield to cause havoc at will. He scored his team’s second goal and drove in to the heart of the Scotland defence with a striking run moments before Clarke’s team conceded the penalty for the third goal.

Wirtz, meanwhile, is a couple of months younger. Having debuted in the Bundesliga at the age of 17 – a record – he was German football’s player of the year as Bayer Leverkusen won the title. 

His influence he had on this game as equally sound. He almost scored in the first minute with a charge down the left though an offside flag may have denied him. Nine minutes later, he did find the net as he moved sweetly through midfield on to a Joshua Kimmich pass to sweep a low shot off Angus Gunn’s right palm and in to the net off the post.

With Gundogan, now of Barcelona but a key part of Pep Guardiola’s golden Manchester City years, playing just behind Havertz in a German formation that encouraged expression and flexibility, the Scotland back five simply could not close doors fast enough before another one opened.

Gundogan’s part in the second goal was sublime. The quickness of his feet in the middle of the field won him the space to play a perfect pass through to Havertz. The Arsenal forward had the presence of mind to tee up Musiala for the finish.

Scotland were lost from the moment they conceded the first goal. Their supporters – massed behind the goal were all the damage was done – sat silent in their seats as their hangovers from a day’s drinking suddenly arrived at fast forward speed. In order for Clarke’s plan to work, there had to be a period of stalemate, time for German frustration to build. 

But it never happened. His back five left his team outnumbered and out thought in midfield and the great challenge for him now is to pick chastened players off the floor in time for their next appointment with Switzerland in Cologne on Wednesday.

Bayern Munich star Musiala could have played for Englandbut chose the country of his birth

Bayern Munich star Musiala could have played for Englandbut chose the country of his birth

Wirtz was German football’s player of the year as Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga title

Wirtz was German football’s player of the year as Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga title 

Steve Clarke's plan was to frustrate Germany but their attackers ran rampant against an exposed backline

Steve Clarke’s plan was to frustrate Germany but their attackers ran rampant against an exposed backline 

Julain Nagelsmann's side were supposed to be under pressure but that notion has evaporated

Julain Nagelsmann’s side were supposed to be under pressure but that notion has evaporated

With 85 minutes gone, Scotland hadn’t managed a shot or a corner. Their late goal was a fluke and somehow the rather comedic nature of it felt appropriate. Against that background it didn’t even count as a consolation.

Germany will need some of their best football held in reserve. Summer tournaments are a test of consistency and endurance. Flying starts only take you so far.

This was deeply impressive from Julian Nagelsmann’s team, though. The Germans were supposed to be under a little pressure ahead of this their home tournament. That notion evaporated almost as soon as the shrill of the opening anthems had dissipated into the summer Bavarian air.

Comments

No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *