Germany lost 2-0 to Colombia in Gelsenkirchen last week in an international friendly to finish off a disappointing season under Hansi Flick. A few days before that, they had lost to Poland by a solitary goal, which means that Die Mannschaft failed to score in each of their last two matches. Even before that in March, they had lost 3-2 to Belgium.
If one takes the exit from the group stage in the 2022 World Cup into consideration, Germany have been really poor during 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 supporters will be expecting a solid performance from their team in it.
#1. Persist with Niclas Fullkrug as the No. 9
Germany have not had a quality striker since Miroslav Klose hung his boots up, but Flick should try to make the best of resources available to him. Fullkrug was one of the few German players who managed to enhance their reputation in the last World Cup and should get an extended stint with the national team.
Fullkrug has a solid return of seven goals from nine international matches for Germany, which bodes well for his future with the national team.
Flick should probably come to 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 matches for Germany is nothing special and if he has to feature in the team, he should play on the right flank.
Joachim Low committed the cardinal mistake of playing Serge Gnabry as the No. 9 in Euro 2020 – a move that yielded no result. Flick should try to avoid making a similar mistake with Havertz and should probably put Fullkrug’s direct style and better finishing abilities to better use.
#2. Building the team’s midfield around Jamal Musiala
Germany played with a 4-2-3-1 formation against Colombia, with Ilkay Gundogan playing as the No. 10 and Musiala and Leroy Sane on the flanks. As good a player Gundogan is, he is more comfortable playing as a central midfielder than as a No. 10.
He plays box-to-box at times for his club Manchester City. However, for the Cityzens, too, Kevin De Bruyne plays in a more creative role than Gundogan does and that is the way things should be for the German national team.
Gundogan can partner Joshua Kimmich as a holding midfielder, with the talented Musiala playings as the No. 10, Sane on the left flank instead of the right and either Havertz or Gnabry on the right.
The above set-up should allow Musiala more creative freedom rather than wasting his passing skills by putting him out wide. It will also put players capable of cutting in from the flanks as wingers and use Gundogan’s experience by putting him alongside Kimmich.
It will mean that Germany will have a couple of playmakers in their side, with Kimmich pulling the strings from deep and Musiala breaching opposition defenses with his ball-skills. The formation can switch to a 4-1-4-1 at times, giving Gundogan the freedom to run into the opposition penalty box occasionally to utilize his knack of scoring important goals.