Julian Nagelsmann was dealt his first defeat as Germany manager with the 3-2 friendly loss to Turkey at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. Since replacing Hansi Flick, Nagelsmann now has a win, draw, and a loss on his résumé as Die Mannschaft manager and the loss to Turkey compounded the same types of defensive problems this team has had dating back to when Flick replaced Joachim Löw after Euro 2020.
Nagelsmann surprisingly made the decision to start with a back line that contained Kai Havertz at left-back in what was supposed to be a hybrid attacking/defensive role. The Arsenal FC man did find himself on the score sheet on the night, but as a collective, Germany was not tactically sound and looked devoid of any sort of structure. The Germans blew a two-goal lead after Havertz and Borussia Dortmund’s Niclas Füllkrug had scored in the first half and conceded a penalty within the last quarter of an hour of the match, handing them the loss.
In midfield, Nagelsmann went with the dual pivot of Joshua Kimmich and Ilkay Gündogan, who were tucked in behind Leroy Sané, Florian Wirtz, Julian Brandt, and Füllkrug. The formation did not exactly work wonders in what looked to be a weird sort of 4-2-2-2 that was certainly open to tactical interpretation.
As far as the middle of the pitch, former Bayern and Germany midfielder Lothar Matthäus was rather critical of the Kimmich/Gündogan pivot, saying that he does not think they fit playing alongside one another. “Gündogan and Kimmich, as we also saw at the World Cup, do not fit together as a double pivot. They’re too similar. Of course both are world class players, but I think they don’t do each other any good when they play so close together. I think one of the two should play with Pascal Groß or Leon Goretzka,” he explained doing punditry duties for RTL after the final whistle (via @iMiaSanMia).
From his time playing under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, there is certainly a fair amount of tactical versatility with a midfielder like Gündogan, but what worked for him at City will not exactly translate to the same level of competency with Germany. The midfield pivot, by no means, is Germany’s only problem, but perhaps Nagelsmann should take heed of Matthäus’ suggestion about the center of midfield.
Interested in a more in-depth look at what went wrong for Germany, or do you just want to revel in our misery? Well either way, our podcast has you covered. In our newest episode, we discuss Germany’s humiliating loss to Turkey, and also take a minute to discuss whether Alphonso Davies will stay at Bayern Munich. Listen to it below or on Spotify.