Germany just played its best game in three years versus Portugal, so the football gods decided enough was enough. They’ve struck down Thomas Muller with a knee injury, which means the Bayern Munich man is liable to miss the team’s crucial game against Hungary tomorrow. It took Joachim Low a lot of pain and effort to find a system that kind-of works, so how can he tweak it to make up for the absence of the Raumdeuter?
While we’ve already looked at Germany’s options for replacing Muller, the fact remains that his absence will be a massive blow to the team. Germany didn’t really plan for this eventuality, so there aren’t any pre-prepared solutions ready to be slotted in.
Meanwhile, Lukas Klostermann remains injured, so Low doesn’t even have the option to move Joshua Kimmich back into midfield. On the bright side, Ilkay Gundogan and Mats Hummels managed to return to team training despite injury issues of their own, while Leon Goretzka has also been ruled fit for the match.
Bild previewed two distinct systems for the game tomorrow, and there are pros and cons to both of them.
Possible lineups without Thomas Müller with two different systems [ Bild] pic.twitter.com/mP7bQ8Y1qh— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) June 21, 2021
The first lineup shows a four-man backline, something that Jogi Low hasn’t used for years now. While the 2014 World Cup winning coach has often resorted to changing formations at the drop of a hat these past few years, it seems unlikely that he’ll take such a drastic step on the eve of such a massive game, only for the sake of one missing player.
However, there are plenty of advantages. A traditional winger like Sane could simplify the transition for the rest of the players, as you don’t really need to over-complicate the system to accommodate him. Also, getting Kimmich and Goretzka back in midfield could help the Germans withstand Hungary’s attacks, especially if the wingbacks happen to get caught up-field on counters.
However, Bild’s second lineup is far more likely, where Germany’s XI remains unchanged except for Leon Goretzka slotting into Thomas Muller’s position. While this might seem like a fine decision on the surface, Goretzka is not the same type of player as Muller, and it’s hard to see him having the same impact — especially after such a long hiatus.
At Bayern Munich, the two of them often occupy each other’s spaces, but Jogi’s current system is nothing like the system Bayern play. Other options include Leroy Sane or Kevin Volland, but all the alternatives are untested. After all, Muller was planned to be a key cog in Germany’s system for this tournament.
Hungary still have a chance to make it into the knockout stages if they win this game. As we saw with France, they have the quality to cause an upset, and they’ll come at the Germans with everything they have. Let’s hope that Joachim Low makes the right adjustments to his system tomorrow. Otherwise, it could end up being his very last game in charge.
Other potential options:
- A 4-2-3-1 with Timo Werner and Kai Havertz up top, with Gnabry and Sane on the wings.
- A 3-4-3 with Werner coming in for Muller, and the lineup being otherwise unchanged.
Low leaves the door open on Muller’s participation.
Joachim Löw on Thomas Müller: "We have to wait until tomorrow morning. He will undergo a test to see whether he'll be available or not then we will decide" #GERHUN pic.twitter.com/63qNcu7KAO— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) June 22, 2021
Still, it’s probably safe to say that he won’t be playing in the match. If Germany go through, he’ll be needed in the Ro16 and beyond.
Interesting info from Bild’s Tobias Altschaffl:
Leon Goretzka and Leroy Sané were in the the secret training yesterday part of the starting lineup against Hungary. Both should get their chance tonight.— Tobi Altschäffl (@altobelli13) June 23, 2021