Hansi Flick made it seven wins for seven as manager of the German national team with the 4-1 win over Armenia to round out World Cup qualifying with flying colors. A brace from Ilkay Gundogan and goals from Kai Havertz and Jonas Hofmann rounded out the scoring for Die Mannschaft with Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s converted penalty only serving as a mere consolation goal for Armenia. Without several key players for Germany, Flick had different choices to make with his personnel decisions, but some players shone better for themselves than others with the chances they were given.
Jersey Swap: Eduard Spertsyan
The more obvious route to choose for the jersey swap would’ve been Henrik Mkhitaryan for converting his penalty and providing some lively moments on the counter attack, but Spertsyan was at the heart of Armenia’s midfield and tasked with a box-to-box role, trying to link defense to attack. It was clear Armenia was going to sit in deep with little to no space in between their lines to force Germany to work to find spaces to utilize, which can provide for incredibly exhausting work, constantly chasing the ball and shadows, so to speak. Spertsyan did well to get forward himself on a handful of occasions and perhaps should’ve done better with the chances that did fall his way, but he was troublesome with his first and second time balls out of his own third. He often looked for either Mkhitaryan or Khoren Bayramyan on the break when Germany’s wing backs were pressed high up the pitch. He was also involved in the buildup play that led to Florian Neuhaus’s challenge on Davit Terteryan that won Armenia their penalty in the 56th minute of play.
Der Bomber: Thomas Muller
It should come as no surprise that Muller was at the heart of most things productive in the attacking third for Germany. Playing off of the right behind Kai Havertz, he was constantly shifting into space in between Armenia’s midfield and defensive lines and was able to deliver a lot of dangerous balls into the box. He had a lovely give and go exchange with Jonas Hofmann in the buildup to Germany’s opening goal of the match where the latter played in a beautiful low cross to Kai Havertz just outside of the six-yard box. He also played the pass to Gundogan just before his second goal, which to be fair, Stanislav Buchnev should’ve dealt with far better with in what was a moment eerily similar to Rob Green’s blunder in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when he spilled Clint Dempsey’s effort and England drew the United States 1-1. All in all, Muller shone quite well for himself wearing the captain’s armband and was replaced in the 60th minute by VfL Wolfsburg’s Lukas Nmecha.
Der Fußballgott: Ilkay Gundogan
The Manchester City man was at the double for Germany, slightly aided by Buchenv’s blunder for his second goal. In the absence of midfield stalwarts Joshua Kimmich (quarantine) and Leon Goretzka (injury), Gundogan was tasked with acting as Germany’s metronome in the center of the park and stuck to his task expectedly well. He rarely gave away possession and was characteristically tidy with his passing, whether it be lobbed diagonals into the box, or short, lateral, Pep Guardiola-ball passes. Per WhoScored, he also boasted the second best successful dribbles rate in the match (2) along with Neuhaus and just behind Jonathan Tah (5), both of whom played more minutes than him. We’ve rarely seen a midfield pivot of Gundogan and Neuhaus for Germany, so it’s easy to be speculative from the offset, but Gundogan hardly put a foot wrong in Yerevan and took home a brace to his name to end World Cup qualifying.
Der Kaiser: Jonas Hofmann
It’s beginning harder to remember that Hofmann is a right back by trade, but he’s transformed into a very productive right wing back under Hansi Flick for Germany. The Borussia Monchengladbach man may very well prefer a more advanced role like he plays domestically for Die Fohlen, but Flick might’ve found his permanent solution at right back. His cross after a lovely exchange with Muller found Havertz in perfect space to open the scoring for Germany and he made no mistake when he pounced on Mkhitaryan’s stray pass in the 64th minute to score Germany’s fourth goal of the match. He’s a player who just seems to be growing in confidence quite a bit and the chemistry between he and Muller on that right flank has been noticeably productive. He can deputize just as well if it’s Serge Gnabry playing just ahead of him. He recorded a match high 4 key passes in the match and boasted a pass success rate of 92%, completing a total of 60 accurate passes.
The assist for Havertz’s goal:
Kai Havertz gives Germany the lead with a tidy finish pic.twitter.com/9gGqXaEIu4— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 14, 2021
Meister of the Match: Kai Havertz
While Havertz arguably could’ve and should’ve found the back of the net more than once, he was constantly the focal threat for Germany going forward and always kept Armenia honest at the back. He’s certainly not a natural number 9, but very well possesses the ability to play as the most advanced offensive player for both Chelsea and Germany. He’s able to get into areas off of the shoulder of defenses and his tidy close control saw him in exchanges with Muller, Neuhaus, Leroy Sane, Gundogan, David Raum, and also Kevin Volland and Nmecha when they both came on in the second half. He registered a total of 5 shots, 2 of which were on frame, but while he could’ve done better with those chances, it’s a statistic that suggests he’s doing all the right things to get into the right spaces and create dangerous moments for Germany.