Havertz, Musiala highlight young German talent at World Cup

The headlines took eight years to prepare. Mario Götze, hero of the 2014 World Cup final and former golden boy of German football, is back. He had health issues, five years in the international wilderness, and was apparently buried as an elite performer. But, superb form since returning to Germany amid Eintracht Frankfurt’s dynamic forward play brought Götze back to the big time.

Where does he have it? Besides Götze, two minor issues were simmering in the German media before the announcement. Another hero of 2014, Mats Hummels is not exactly the player he was in Brazil. Then Timo Werner’s injury left questions over the squad’s No.9.

The two options for the latter are fan favorite Niclas Füllkrug of newly promoted Werder Bremen, the highest scoring German in the Bundesliga. The other is pundits favourite, 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko of Borussia Dortmund. In the end, the two attackers head towards Doha.

Havertz and Musiala set to steal the show in first World Cup appearance

But team depth is one thing; stealing the show is another. Germany have a number of options that can make a difference on the pitch. Perhaps Hansi Flick’s squad announcement points to clues about his starting XI.

Germany’s two most likely game changers flew conveniently under the radar yesterday.

All about Jamal at n°10

At only 19 years old, Jamal Musiala is already an indispensable liaison man and Bayern Munich goalscorer Hansi Flick adores him, and complemented by his Bayern teammates, he should be Germany’s go-to inspiration in Qatar. Musiala is tearing up the Bundesliga with ease and this World Cup could make him the global star Götze never quite was.

Musiala’s place in the team was never in doubt and needed no headlines. But the media fuss around Götze could be sweet pressure for Germany’s real key man.

Super Mario has indeed been in fine form for an attractive Frankfurt side. See previous a goal against Hoffenheim on 9 November. But Musiala is playing his third consecutive season of Champions League football for a true elite team. He has the form, the top skills and the essential connections on the pitch with Kimmich and co.

If fans around the world needed some insight into measuring Musiala against previous generations of German football idols, he offered a masterclass three months ago, Frankfurt v Bayern. Sharing the pitch with Götze, Musiala was dazzling, twisting tackles and creating chances at will. Götze showed flashes of class. But next to the young man, he looked heavy and slow.

Don’t Forget Fake-9 Kai

Although a Champions League decider at just 21, Havertz has struggled somewhat at Chelsea. Huge prize money, chaotic club politics and frequent management changes didn’t help. But Havertz earned respect and developed his game.

Favored to No.9 to Romelu Lukaku for long stretches of the Belgian’s final season at Stamford Bridge, and a frequent substitute since, Havertz – alongside Liverpool’s Bobby Firmino – is probably the Premier League’s best representative of the role of ” false-9”.

And in a German setup that has lacked a standout central striker for most of the last decade, he is also used to it at international level.

Gareth Southgate provided the laughs when selecting four right-backs for the England squad at Euro 2020. How about Müller, Havertz, Musiala and Götze all competing as No.10 for the Germany ? Of course, they won’t all take the field simultaneously against Japan on November 23.

It’s likely that the German squad is built for flexibility upfield. Müller and Havertz can both lead the line – and have the elite experience that Füllkrug and Moukoko lack “just happy to be there” – and Götze is a reasonable replacement for Musiala in extra time and dead rubbers.

Aged 19 and 23 respectively, the World Cup awaits the new era of German talents in Jamal Musiala and Kai Havertz.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Christian Schroedter

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