Behind a strong contingent of Bayern Munich players, Germany looked poised to finish this international break with an undefeated record in Group J...until North Macedonia happened. Like Mexico and South Korea a few years ago, North Macedonia stepped up to the plate and smacked Germany around. Here are some quick hitters on the match:
- The game went through a long feeling out process that saw Germany control play and be the primary aggressors, but Die Mannschaft could not take advantage of their opportunities.
- Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry each had great chances to give Germany an early lead, but Goretzka’s attempt hit the crossbar and Gnabry over-hit his shot.
- Kai Havertz had his ups and his down in this one, but I think he’s shown really well playing out-wide over the course of these three games. Oddly, it was his touches that felled him on this day. At times his touch was too big and at others it was just not enough. That inconsistency led to a performance that started strong, but faded badly.
- Robin Gosens started off okay, but he, too, faded and became a hindrance to his team.
- Give North Macedonia credit, they were solid in executing their game plan. They limited Germany’s chances (as best they could) and held their own.
- Goran Pandev’s goal just before halftime was the result of some shoddy defending by Germany. It seemed that for the entirety of the break, we’ve been waiting for the German defense to crumble — and it finally did.
- And it did once again on North Macedonia’s eventual game-winning goal as well. While the offense did not convert enough chances, the defense cannot be as sloppy as it was in this match.
- Timo...oh...Timo Werner. It was not the perfect opportunity, but it was close. You have to finish that one. In a season filled with forgettable moments for the former RB Leipzig man, this one was probably the one that will haunt him the most.
- If it is not already clear, it should be...you cannot have a contending team with Antonio Rüdiger as your lead center-back. Germany needs Niklas Süle back and healthy as soon as possible.
- For as good as Serge Gnabry was in the first two games, he was lethargic in this one.
- Joachim Löw’s fear of any type of rotation led to heavy legs. The team did not have the normal energy it has displayed in the first two games. While you could knock Germany’s precision and ability to be clinical offensively, at least the energy was there. This match started out good for Germany, but they looked tired. Heavy legs led to mistakes and that’s what we saw.
- Not employing any real rotation or using early substitutes across these three matches was an awful mistake.
- Overall, that was not good...not good at all.
This time is it Marca reporter José Félix Díaz chiming in with his account of the transfer rumor where he says Bayern Munich is “attentive” to the situation and that the Bavarians are “contemplating” a move for the 29-year-old:
Lucas Vázquez has rejected Real Madrid's latest contract offer. Bayern are very attentive to the situation and are contemplating the possibility of signing the player as a flexible option for the right-back and wing positions [@jfelixdiaz] pic.twitter.com/Q7uIACQGTd— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) March 31, 2021
Abendzeitung indicated that Bayern Munich could pursue a swap deal of David Alaba for Vazquez, but that does not make any sense considering both players are heading toward free agency.
Sport Bild captured a report from The Sun that indicated that Manchester City is pulling together a plan to acquire Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland — a strategy that would include 350 million reasons for both BVB and Haaland to agree to a move this summer:
At the top clubs, Erling Haaland (20) is everyone’s favorite. The BVB striker is on the wish list at Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool and also at Manchester City. According to “The Sun”, the Citizens should want to put together a package of more than 350 million euros in order to convince Haaland.
Part of it should be an incredible 183 million euros salary in five years. With around 704,000 euros a week (!), Haaland would be the best-paid player in the Premier League. With such sums, only Paris St. Germain could bid in Europe.
BVB would probably only let him go now if the transfer fee is significantly higher and the qualification for the Champions League is missed. There are 150 million euros in the room.
What could be a problem: His advisor Mino Raiola (53) does not have the best relationship with Pep. Papa Alf-Inge, who also advises Erling, would have to deal with that. Incidentally, he once played for the Sky Blues himself.
One thing is clear...whenever Haaland decides to move (and Borussia Dortmund lets him leave), there will a lot of cash involved.
Real Madrid is considered the frontrunner to sign David Alaba, but is reportedly making alternative plans should the Austrian decide to play elsewhere. The names Los Blancos are reportedly looking at include Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Villarreal’s Pau Torres, and even internal candidate Jesus Vallejo who is on loan with Granada CF:
Real Madrid have been widely reported as the front-runners to secure the defender’s services but the player’s agent, Pini Zahavi, recently revealed talks were still ongoing with other clubs. Speaking to AS, Zahavi said: “David has to choose who wins the race. But we are still talking with other clubs. There is no deadline.”
As a result, Real are keeping their options open and, according to AS, they have several other defenders on their radar. The report names Sevilla star Jules Kounde and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly as two potential options, while Jesus Vallejo could also be given a chance having spent the past few seasons out on loan.
Real are also said to be interested in Villarreal’s Pau Torres, who is also on the radar of Manchester United and Liverpool.
It seems that Leeds United and AC Milan are the two clubs most interested in Douglas Costa once his loan with Bayern Munich ends. However, there could be “several” other English sides that are interested in Costa as well. No other names were provided in the report, however.
Erling Haaland has not had a great international break for Norway, but it is absolutely insane that he has never gone three games without scoring: