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Germany boast two of the best players in their position anywhere in world football



On opening night of Euro 2024, a new Germany emerged. Julian Nagelsmann has only been in charge of the national team for a matter of months, but his ideas were apparent in the way the hosts comprehensively dismantled Scotland in a 5-1 victory. On this basis, Germany are genuine contenders to win the tournament.

Every Germany player shone, but two sparkled brighter than the others. Indeed, Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz both found the back of the net and were the two most dangerous players on the pitch. Scotland had no way to stop them and other opponents will also struggle against them if the pair can replicate this showing.

National teams aren’t known for being intense in their pressing, but Germany suffocated the life out of Scotland. Nagelsmann has managed to coach Germany into being a proactive outfit on and off the ball with Musiala and Wirtz’s energy key to their pressing structure. Germany want to close down from the front.

On the ball, however, is where Musiala and Wirtz cause the most damage. Nagelsmann’s system is designed to get both number 10s into the half spaces between the opposition midfield and defence. Scotland never closed up this space and were made to pay dearly for it. Musiala and Wirtz’s intelligent movement and technical ability caused all sorts of problems.

There are questions about other areas of the Germany team. Manuel Neuer has made a number of mistakes recently while both Joshua Kimmich and Maximilian Mittelstadt are vulnerable in the full back positions for different reasons. Midfield anchor Robert Andrich, as impressive as he was against Scotland, is also unproven at this level.

In Musiala and Wirtz, though, Germany boast two of the best players in their position anywhere in world football. They are the face of the country’s next generation which is now coming to the fore at the right time. The fear was Euro 2024 would be embarrassing for the hosts. Instead, it could be a month of German glory.

“When you see Jamal, you don’t tell him what to do, he can just do it,” said Nagelsmann when asked about Musiala’s impact on the opening game against Scotland. “He played an exceptionally good game today. He had an enormous influence. He missed a lot of chances in Qatar [at the 2022 World Cup], but now he has scored a great goal and played a very, very good game.”

Germany will face toughest tests than the one they faced against Scotland. The visitors to Munich gave the likes of Musiala and Wirtz far too much space to operate in. Other opponents will be quicker to close up the lines and get closer to Germany’s two attacking midfielders before they get anywhere near the penalty box.

Nonetheless, Musiala and Wirtz encapsulate what Nagelsmann wants Germany to be under his stewardship. They are young, hungry and exceptionally talented. Nagelsmann’s system plays to their strengths with Kai Havertz’s primary role in the team to make runs that create space for the dual number 10s behind him.

Toni Kroos was another standout performer for Germany on opening night. The central midfielder who will retire from professional football after Euro 2024 was the pace-setter in the centre of the pitch which was another thing that helped the hosts get the most out of their two prodigious superstars. They had a supply line.

With Nagelsmann in charge, Germany might still be a work-in-progress, but their progress is undeniable. This is a team with a point to prove after flopping at the last few major tournaments, and in Musiala and Wirtz, they have two players who could help them make that point by lifting a trophy next month.