Germany lost 2-0 to Colombia in Gelsenkirchen last week in an international friendly to end a disappointing season under Hansi Flick. A few days before that, they had lost to Poland by just one goal, meaning Die Mannschaft failed to score in either of their last two matches. Even before that, in March, they had lost 3-2 to Belgium.
If you factor in the group stage exit at the 2022 World Cup, Germany have been really bad for the last six months or so. It is true that the team is going through a rebuilding phase, but such abject capitulation in successive matches are ominous signs for the team’s future.
Germany will host the European Championship in 2024 and their fans will expect a solid performance from their team in it.
#1. Persist with Niclas Fullkrug as No. 9
Germany have been without a quality striker since Miroslav Klose hung up his boots, but Flick should try to make the most of their resources. Fullkrug was one of the few German players who managed to improve his reputation at the last World Cup and should have a long stay with the national team.
Fullkrug has a solid return of seven goals in nine caps for Germany, which bodes well for his future with the national team.
Flick should probably realize that Kai Havertz is not a typical striker and can only be played as a false nine. Havertz’s record of 13 goals in 37 appearances for Germany is unremarkable and if he is to feature in the team, he should play on the right flank.
Joachim Low made the cardinal mistake of playing Serge Gnabry as the No. 9 at Euro 2020, a move that yielded no results. Flick should try to avoid making a similar mistake with Havertz and should probably take better advantage of Fullkrug’s direct style and better finishing abilities.
#2. Building the team’s midfield around Jamal Musiala
Germany played in a 4-2-3-1 against Colombia, with Ilkay Gundogan playing as No. 10 and Musiala and Leroy Sane on the wings. As good a player as Gundogan is, he feels more comfortable playing as a central midfielder than as a number 10.
He sometimes plays box-to-box for his club, Manchester City. However, also for the Cityzens, Kevin De Bruyne plays a more creative role than Gundogan and that’s how it should be for the German team.
Gundogan can be partnered with Joshua Kimmich as a holding midfielder, with the talented Musiala playing as No. 10, Sane on the left flank instead of right and Havertz or Gnabry on the right.
The above setup should allow Musiala more creative freedom instead of wasting his passing skills by putting him out of play. He will also put players capable of cutting from the flanks as wingers and use Gundogan’s experience by putting him alongside Kimmich.
It will mean Germany will have a pair of playmakers at their side, with Kimmich pulling strings from deep and Musiala breaking down opposition defenses with his ball skills. The formation can change to a 4-1-4-1 at times, giving Gundogan the freedom to run into the opponent’s penalty area from time to time to use his ability to score important goals.
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