One of the primary reasons that Germany was able shake off Iceland so easily yesterday was the absolutely dominant display put forth by the squad’s midfield group of Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, along with Manchester City’s İlkay Gündoğan.
In the wake of that sensational effort, the first question many people asked why was “What does this mean for Real Madrid star Toni Kroos?”
Kroos missed the match with an adductor injury, but the immediate thought process for a lot of fans was to imagine that Germany would not have been anywhere near as successful if the 31-year-old had been a part of the starting lineup.
Maybe those voices were right...maybe not...but either way, Joachim Löw is going to have to address the elephant in the room at some point.
Kimmich and Goretzka are two of the top midfielders in the world at this stage. The Bayern Munich tandem brings intelligence, efficiency, physical play, creativity, passing accuracy, and a dynamic on-field relationship to the pitch for every match. Gündoğan, meanwhile, is 30-years-old, but might be in the best form of his career.
Should Löw opt to continue on with a formation that only uses three central midfielders, Kroos might have trouble breaking through that group — if each player remains in his current form.
One thing that Löw might try to lean on is his penchant for changing formations. Using a back-four against Iceland seemed to stabilize things a bit, but how would that back-four hold up against France, Spain, England, Croatia, etc? That is a big question and one that Löw could use to justify a move to using a three-man backline.
The other x-factor in all of this discussion is the possibility that Thomas Müller, Jerome Boateng, and Mats Hummels could all return. Any combination of those three players would significantly impact what formation — and what starting XI — Löw rolls out for the European Championships.
The final — and least likely — move Löw could make is to push Kimmich over to right-back. Sure, Kimmich would immediately be the squad’s best right-back, but his presence in the midfield has become so huge, it would be a step down that would weaken one of the team’s major strengths.
Whatever happens, the scrutiny won’t last long. Löw will be exiting his post with Germany after this summer. After that, it is likely that we will finally get that changing of the guard that Löw half-heartedly try to implement in 2019.
The shame of it all is that, the 2014 World Cup winner wasted two years of what could have been a ramp up into being a major contender for the Euro 2020 competition. Now, he’ll exit at a time where there truly might be a need for some roster upheaval and he will be exiting his post just in time to not have to deal with any of it.
While things have been much, much better under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea for Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, the duo undoubtedly were looking forward to this international break.
It has not been an easy season in London for the talented twosome as the German pair has often (and most of the time unnecessarily) drawn the ire of the Chelsea fans and local media.
Both players still have big ability and potential and Chelsea fans will likely get to see the team’s investment in the Germans pay off — if the team’s front office can remain patient. The problem with a big money club like Chelsea is that that there is no soft landing period or time for adjustment when new players arrive. Sure, Leroy Sane caught some heat for a somewhat choppy start to his campaign with Bayern Munich, but the online and media outrage surrounding Havertz and Werner at times this season has clearly been more a product of unrealistic first-year expectations than anything. More, Sane owned up to some of his failings my making a more firm commitment to his defensive play...which hushed the critics.
Sure, neither Werner nor Havertz have helped themselves publicly by issuing quotes that were probably based on what they thought people wanted to hear more than what the reality of the situation really was, but they two Germans seem to have a new lease on life in London under Tuchel — at least for now.
There are rumors (soooo many rumors) that Chelsea is looking to bring in even more attacking talent to a roster that is already overflowing with it. Should some of those end up being true, we could eventually see Werner and Havertz back in Germany for club play much sooner than expected.
Against Iceland, Havertz had a goal in a very impressive shift, while Werner came on as a late substitute.
Quick hit entertainment notes
I’ve been caught in one of those ruts where I am not watching anything currently or consistently except “The Walking Dead” which I am essentially hate-watching at this point. Work, kids, coaching, etc. have all limited my time for such fine activities as drinking beers and watching shows. So for now, I’m stuck on that one hour per week of TWD.
Speaking of TWD, the show’s vast potential probably sputtered out seasons ago, but the haphazard storytelling in this season is doing more harm than good. I think the show (which many would say stayed past its welcome years ago) is trying to create something deep by delving into the psyche of the characters, but it is just not working. At this point, I watch for a few characters (Norman Reedus’ Daryl, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan, Josh McDermitt’s Eugene, to name a few), but the show has done an absolutely terrible job in watering down the interesting angles by having too many central characters that effectively spread the viewership’s ability to care so thin that eventually you just find yourself being annoyed while watching.
I am hoping that the showrunners find a way to wrap this up in a succinct and entertaining way, but I am losing a lot of faith that can happen.
- One of my worst habits is probably watching TV as I go to sleep. Some nights I opt for whatever sport is on, other times I scroll through HBO and find a movie or documentary to settle on. Lately I’ve found myself going to bed while watching “Joker”, “It”, or “It: Chapter Two”...I’m not sure what that says about me.
- For whatever reason, I thought back to my very early childhood and one of the shows that I was super into as a (very) young child was “Star Blazers.” At different points of my life I always wondered if my good thoughts about that show (I was probably four or five when watching it) were more nostalgia-based or if it was legitimately good. Of course, I could track down the series (because EVERYTHING is available these days). Does anyone in the BFW recall this season — and more — was it really any good?
Not a good week, but at least it was on the winning side.
Last Bundesliga match day record: 5-4
Overall record: 126-119*
Guest predictors’ record: 23-4
(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, Club World Cup, and Champions League)