Stopping Musiala and Wirtz: Scotland’s plan for Euros opener against young German duo

Stopping Musiala and Wirtz: Scotland’s plan for Euros opener against young German duo

It was back in 2020, in the dark days of the Covid pandemic, that Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala emerged as the two bright lights of German football.

In May 2020, shortly after the Bundesliga became the first major league to come out of lockdown, Wirtz made his debut for Bayer Leverkusen.

Just a month later, Musiala would do likewise for Bayern Munich. Both just 17 at the time, they became the youngest players in the history of their respective clubs.

Yet, even beyond the simple fact they were born in the same year, there is much that unites Wirtz and Musiala.

Much more than the breaking of records which saw them both become superstars before they were even old enough to buy a beer.

From the moment they burst on to the scene four years ago, the pair were swiftly identified as the future of German football.

Musiala, above left, and Wirtz are seen as the future of German football

Musiala goes on a mazy run for the German national side against Greece

Musiala goes on a mazy run for the German national side against Greece

With a home Euros now upon them, their moment of coronation has now arrived. They may well be the future at 21 years of age, but Wirtz and Musiala are also very much the present.

Whatever chance of success Germany have in these Euros hinges on their two Wunderkinds pulling the strings and leading the nation to glory.

Over these past two seasons in the Bundesliga, their fingerprints have been all over the trophy when the dust has settled in the title race.

Just over 12 months ago, on a dramatic final day, it was Musiala who scored the decisive last-minute winner for Bayern to snatch the title away from Dortmund.

Stepping up in big moments when the pressure was at its most intense, it showed a fearless attitude and confirmed that Musiala was already a game-breaking talent.

Wirtz has raised the bar even higher this season. Recently crowned player of the year in Germany, the playmaker was instrumental in Leverkusen’s historic season.

He scored 18 goals and contributed 20 assists in all competitions as Leverkusen went unbeaten while winning a league and cup double.

It was so nearly an unbeaten Treble, only for them to fall short at the final hurdle in the Europa League as they lost to Atalanta in Dublin.

That defeat didn’t detract from what had been an outstanding season, with Wirtz the architect of Leverkusen’s success.

Musiala in action for Bayern Munich against Arsenal in the Champions League

Musiala in action for Bayern Munich against Arsenal in the Champions League

Wirtz played a huge part in Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten domestic season

Wirtz played a huge part in Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten domestic season

Scotland will have to beware the combined might of the German pair in Euro 2024 opener

Scotland will have to beware the combined might of the German pair in Euro 2024 opener

This was a player who, just three years ago, had been forced to miss a European match against Slavia Prague beause he was sitting his school exams.

Clearly an intelligent student of the game, Wirtz has since graduated with flying colours on the football front.

It was around the turn of the year, when he was orchestrating Leverkusen’s title charge, that it became clear he and Musiala would have to play in the same team for Germany.

That was the conundrum facing Julian Nagelsmann when he took the job last autumn after the sacking of Hansi Flick.

Flick had long recognised the talents of Musiala and Wirtz, but had struggled to get the best out of them as he grappled with trying to fit the two attackers into the same line-up.

The chopping and changing of systems and personnel was reflected in results, with Flick eventually sacked after a run which had seen Germany lose to Japan, Colombia and Poland.

Whatever success Nagelsmann would have as his replacement would surely hinge on fitting Wirtz and Musiala together.

In March, the head coach had his Eureka moment as Germany won back-to-back friendlies against Holland and France.

Wirtz and Musiala started both games and were outstanding playing as twin No 10s, with Wirtz named man of the match against the French.

‘I feel good with Flo on and off the pitch,’ said Musiala following the France victory. ‘The connection between us gets even better with every game.’

As part of the supporting cast, midfielder Ilkay Gundogan added: ‘Jamal and Flo are in top form. I want to help them by providing the necessary balance so they can show their magic.’

Germany will hope that the magic of Wirtz and Musiala will be sprinkled over these Euros in the next few weeks.

They are the two players who could spark Die Mannschaft into life, starting with tomorrow night’s opening clash with Scotland in Munich.

Prodigious talents who carry the hopes of a nation on their shoulders, they are the two golden boys of German football who have their eyes on more silverware.

Since they burst on to the scene a few years ago, there aren’t many who have been able to stop them.

Devising a plan to nullify Wirtz and Musiala will hold the key to Scotland’s chances of taking a positive result in the Allianz Arena.

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 *