Leon Goretzka was arguably Germany’s best performer in their 3-1 win over Ukraine in Leipzig on Saturday, which took them to the top of UEFA Nations League A Group 4. The Bayern Munich midfielder provided top quality assists on Die Mannschaft’s first and second goals of the match; one to Leroy Sane and one to Timo Werner. In addition to his assists, he was a stable presence in Germany’s midfield, doing work on both sides of the ball as if often the case with Goretzka’s performances for Bayern.
After the match, Joachim Low spoke highly of Goretzka, highlighting the fact that he pushed forward often and created a lot of positive play for Germany (Bild):
“That was a great game by Leon Goretzka today! He was an fantastic asset in our game. He made many runs forward. Again and again he pushed through the midfield and the front with a lot of influence and speed. Leon really drove the game up front, supported the strikers. I thought he was involved throughout the game today and also worked well on the defensive side. Leon is really in very, very good shape right now. I am pleased that he is now healthy for a longer period of time. You can also see the power and strength. Really a great game from him!”
Low was right. Most of the positive play Germany created came through Goretzka, who was given some freedom to roam forward with Ilkay Gundogan and Robin Koch acting as the holding midfielders. Goretzka seems to be at his best for both Bayern and Germany when he’s given that little bit of freedom to press forward and create.
Even Goretzka himself recognized how strong his performance was speaking to ZDF after the match. Specifically, he said he much preferred his assist to Sane more than the one to Werner because of the way the play developed. For Sane’s goal, Goretzka had one the ball himself in his own third, strode forward, and played a perfectly weighted through ball for his Bayern teammate. “I actually liked the first one better because I could finally play with Leroy again. I already know him very, very well. Especially when you look at the situation before that, five minutes before, I waited long enough for him to make the run and then we totally screwed it up on the side. Therefore: All the better that it worked on the second attempt.“
Of course, with Goretzka, there is competition in midfield with Die Mannschaft. It’s Low’s job to find where he fits best considering he’s also competing with Bayern teammate Joshua Kimmich, Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan, and even Chelsea’s Kai Havertz, who often plays as a central attacking midfielder in a similar role that Goretzka performed against Ukraine. With his strong performances for both club and country, Low surely won’t want to leave Goretzka out of the German lineup, but he just has to figure out how it works best. When speaking about this, Low said he strongly feels Goretzka is best in a central role, so he wants to avoid playing him in a wide role: “He shouldn’t play up and down the outside lane, that’s not my intention at the moment. His great value lies in the center, from the middle of the game, in the eight position, because he also makes these dynamic runs into the opponent’s sixteen, because he is ball-safe and because he is now working very well backwards, his body leads and he wins duels,“ Low explained.