clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Four observations from a chaotic evening for Germany in Austria

Whether ten or eleven, Germany play the same way.

Austria v Germany - International Friendly Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Sechs? Wir haben keine sechs

Bayern Munich’s Leon Goretzka and FC Barcelona’s İlkay Gündoğan operating as a double pivot are probably a more stable option than a tandem of anyone and Joshua Kimmich. Gündoğan is better than Kimmich in possession and passing and Goretzka is better than Kimmich in defending. Goretzka is a more physical, faster and a much cleaner tackler of the ball. Goretzka offers more to the sum of the team even if he doesn’t have Kimmich’s amazing individual attributes. Goretzka is not as easily dispossessed and acts as a pressure release mechanism, allowing Gündoğan or Rudiger to find a piercing pass through the middle. At the moment it would appear to be the more stable midfield pairing available.

Baby got back, but why?

Why does Julian Nagelsmann insist that this team play out from the back without the coordination, or personnel for it? Why does every single Nagelsmann team midfielder receive the ball with their back to goal? They seldom pull defenders out of position and create space. This threading the needle with a careful one-two pass has yielded so little by the way of results, and is so ponderously slow that opponents suffocate the attack before it begins. This leaves the team dangerously out of possession and position, ala the first Austrian goal. Why can the ball not be played into space?

When they go low, we go high.... I think? Or maybe low?

No one player knows at any given time where his teammate is going to be. Sometimes it is an asymmetrical back three with Kai Havertz as an occasional left wing-back. Sometimes it is Goretzka as an additional center-back. Sometimes Leroy Sané is out wide holding width, sometimes he is in the middle. This amorphousness, mistaken for malleability, is when there were a full complement of 11 players on the field. All of this is fluidity and sublime when successful and cupidity and amateurish when not. The sheer number of misplaced passes indicates the latter. Even flexibility requires underlying structure.

There might be a reason to worry...

While Nagelsmann has not had a meaningful amount of time, it is unlikely that he will between now and the summer competition to drill in complicated tactics and intricate movements. Germany needs a game plan where roles are clearly defined and players stepping in fill the same role, not add a twist to it. Without a sensible overall structure and clearly defined positional roles, players cannot be swapped without upending all stability in the team. Tactics cannot have the sensitivity of a microchip where substituting component players upends all balance. There needs to be more simplicity and uniformity. All the tinkering and not one coherent passage of play in the first half.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bavarian Football Works Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Bayern Munich news from Bavarian Football Works