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“That’s why he’s on the pitch”: Hansi Flick touts Niclas Füllkrug impact for Germany vs. Spain

How to stop being at sixes and sevens? Get a gr8 number nine!

Spain v Germany: Group E - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Pablo Morano/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Werder Bremen forward Niclas Füllkrug proved Germany’s unlikely savior in the closing phase of a World Cup contest against Spain in which everything was on the line. Or, depending on how you look at it, he was the most likely of them all.

“That’s why he’s on the pitch,” Germany coach Hansi Flick raved after the match (via @iMiaSanMia). “He scored 10 goals in the Bundesliga. The determination with which he finishes his chances was good and crucial for us today.”

Füllkrug isn’t exactly to Germany what Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is to Bayern Munich. While Choupo-Moting is a dynamic winger-forward — touted by manager Julian Nagelsmann as “more of a No. 10”, even — Füllkrug is a classic box striker and that’s that.

In Hansi Flick’s high octane system, Füllkrug is perhaps not the most natural fit. But without Timo Werner, Flick’s preferred strike option isn’t available for the tournament, either. And as the game wore on, it looked more and more like that one singular dimension was all that was required — and it was.

Füllkrug’s goal was grabbed with serious conviction, the striker charging in to collect a loose ball off the foot of Jamal Musiala. Where Musiala himself missed the chance to slide it across to him earlier, Füllkrug made no mistake in lashing his shot past Spanish keeper Unai Simón.

In that sense, he’s exactly like Bayern’s Le Choup. A man who will be clinical and ruthless with his shots, and instill fear in the hearts of the opposition defense. In the box, Bayern’s attacking group have already learned how to look for a player like that. Will that same dynamic be Germany’s salvation in this tournament?

Interested in a VERY in-depth review of Germany’s 1-1 draw with Spain? Then why not check out the latest episode of our podcast? We talk about everything from lineups, tactics, and individual performances, to a discussion about Bayern Munich at the World Cup overall. Listen to it below or on Spotify.

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