Germany slid at a glacial pace to a 2-0 victory against Israel in an international friendly. Germany had way too many chances to only score two, but hey, at least we scored, right, Italy?
Hansi Flick or Julian Nagelsmann?
Germany today lined up in a manner that is eerily similar to that of Julian Nagelsmann’s system at Bayern Munich, and there is a reason for this.
Both Bayern and Germany have the same problem: a great creative presence at left wing-back, but the absence of a good right back. Both coaches — Flick and Nagelsmann — came to the same conclusion: play an asymmetrical formation that sees the right back tuck in as a third centre back while the left back pushes with the midfield. We even saw Julian Draxler (Germany) play the exact role of Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich): drop while on the right flank out of possession or if the defenders have the ball, and lurk just wide of the middle when the ball is on the left to pick up any loose crosses or drag markers away, possibly a role Gnabry himself was meant to play today before he fell ill.
This convergent evolution of systems, if you will, could be coincidental or it could be telling of the thought process of German coaches when looking at their personnel.
Kai Havertz is the best on Earth
Okay, he isn’t, but the chant is catchy.
Havertz was a joy to watch in the final third. His link-up play was excellent, especially when drifting into the half-spaces to facilitate either Musiala in the middle or Draxler on the flank. The goal was just the icing on the cake, a perfect header at the near post from a corner that reminded me of another goal from a Chelsea striker that came from a near post corner header... sigh, let’s not depress ourselves too much here.
Either way, look to Kai Havertz to lead the lines of Die Mannschaft in Müller’s absence.
Building from the back with the back four
So as I mentioned, Germany elected to play an asymmetrical formation. Just like Nagelsmann’s back four, one of the midfielders was instructed to play with the backline: Julian Weigl (read: Joshua Kimmich). Weigl did a great job as a defensive midfielder replacing Kimmich.. hmm, that seems to be a sentence I may have read before, maybe in a Mannschaft Planen article I wrote specifically about purchasing a backup for a defensive midfielder, one which included Weigl himself (wink wink)?
Julian Weigl was great building from the back, as was one of his defensive partners in SC Freiburg’s Nico Schlotterbeck. Schlotterbeck was sensational today, being defensively solid and silky smooth in the attacking half, putting in multiple crosses and playing numerous through balls breaking the lines of Israel with ease. He did concede a penalty in a very silly manner though, which will stain his performance.
Jamal Musiala is the actual best on Earth
Okay, he isn’t either. But it’s a fun thing to say.
Musiala was the best player on the field, and it wasn’t even close. Defensively, he pressed very well with the attacking unit and did drop back when needed, although it wasn’t needed with the back three and Weigl behind him. His dribbling was magnificent, making Israeli players turn inside and out, then inside again, and then out again. His link-up was as good as Havertz’s, with all the first-touch flicks and touches to setup his teammates with chances multiple times, including multiple times where he should’ve gotten an assist if not for Timo Werner being Timo Werner.
How much longer until Musiala becomes a starter for Bayern?
The curse of the German forward
In the first half, Timo Werner did score from a set piece but multiple times found himself offside or onside and missing chance on chance. He genuinely did not seem like he wanted to score, often hesitating while in front of goal despite having a clear chance to shoot.
Müller and Nmecha came on during the second half. Nmecha would find himself in on goal but would be fouled in the 90th minute: a goalscoring chance denied for a player who definitely needs the boost in my opinion as a player who represents the future of the national team. Müller would have a quiet game but would take the penalty won by Nmecha.. only to hit the woodwork. The curse of the German forward continues.