Goretzka came on as a sub in the 73rd minute in Germany’s 4-2 win over Portugal and came on in the 58th minute in the 2-2 draw with Hungary, in which he scored the late equalizer to send Die Mannschaft through to the knockout stages.
Goretzka wasn’t in the squad for the opening group stage match in the 1-0 loss to France because he was still recovering from an injury and had not clocked enough time with the rest of the squad in the training camp in Seefeld, Austria.
In the 2-2 draw with Hungary, Goretzka replaced Ilkay Gundogan after the Manchester City midfielder had a collision with Hungary’s András Schäfer, who scored their second goal on the night. Per Bild, Gundogan was still complaining of a headache that wound up lasting until Sunday, which is plenty of cause for concern for Joachim Low and his coaching staff. Because of this, in addition to how effective Goretzka was in his 32-minute appearance, it’s most likely that he will start in place of Gundogan against Gareth Southgate’s England. The England manager has big personnel decisions of his own to make, as well.
There was a call for Goretzka to start against Hungary due to the fact that Thomas Muller had sustained a knee capsule injury in the second half of the win over Portugal when he blocked a cross with an awkwardly outstretched right leg. It was quite remarkable that the Raumdeuter was even able to make the bench for the Hungary clash, having only just under four days in between the two matches. Low decided to start Leroy Sane in place of Muller, but he was pedestrian at best and he just never really quite shifted into second gear. This was the only change Low had made to the starting eleven from the France and Portugal matches where he had gone with Manuel Neuer, Robin Gosens, Antonio Rudiger, Mats Hummels, Matthias Ginter, Joshua Kimmich, Toni Kroos, Gundogan, Serge Gnabry, Muller, and Kai Havertz.
Goretzka, Muller, Jamal Musiala, and Timo Werner all made a difference when they were introduced in the second half in the Hungary match, when Germany was eventually trailing 2-1 and chasing for an equalizer to keep their tournament alive. Unlike Low, Southgate has experimented with his starting lineups, both in defense and attack. All of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, and Bukayo Saka have had starts in any of their three group stage matches and Southgate has also interchanged wide backs Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw and Reece James as well as brining in Harry Maguire for Tyrone Mings in the 1-0 win over the Czech Republic. Southgate will have an added selection headache due to the fact that Mount and Ben Chilwell had to self isolate and train on their on away from the rest of the squad due to their close contact with Chelsea teammate Billy Gilmour after the 0-0 draw with Scotland.
If the group stages have shown us anything, it’s that Low is the more relcutant of the two managers to make too many changes to his starting lineup. Sane for Muller and the proposed switch from Gundogan to Goretzka both might not have happened or had the possibility of happening without the knocks to both Muller and Gundogan. Goretzka’s performance against Hungary alone should warrant a start against the Three Lions.