Sport

Germany missed Jamal Musiala’s unpredictability against France

During the 2020/2021 season Bayern Munich wonderkid Jamal Musiala averaged 0.56 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes.

It is a record that few forwards in Europe can hold a candle to. He also completed around four dribbles per game, leaving an average of just over four opponents in his wake per 90 minutes.

Incredible statistics like this are one of the reasons that Germany courted Musiala so enthusiastically to avoid losing his allegiance to England. Although Die Mannschaft might have bought him lots of flowers and chocolates when they were dating, the pair’s marriage has got off to a rocky start.

Musiala was left out of Joachim Low’s 23-man squad for Germany’s Euro 2020 opener against France alongside Leon Goretzka and Jonas Hofmann.

A brief flurry of activity in the second half aside, Low’s charges were thoroughly outclassed by Les Bleus. Their obvious weak link was the defence, with Mats Hummels repeatedly made to look quite a bit older than his 32 years by the electrifying Kylian Mbappe.

Although Germany were hardly built on rock solid foundations, they had problems at the other end of the field as well. Each of the six attackers that featured – starters Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz and Thomas Muller, as well as substitutes Leroy Sane, Timo Werner and Kevin Volland – played nowhere near their full potential.

Muller failed to add another goal to his bulging international tournament collection, spurning an easy header in the first half. Gnabry was also well off the pace, missing a great chance of his own after the break. Havertz’s display was disappointing as well, with his languid style bordering on loose and lazy at times.

Starting in a right forward berth he just could not find any space, despite his desperate attempts to shift horizontally across the forward line to find it.

All the substitutes had next to no impact either. The situation would have left Musiala scratching his head as to why he was not even worthy of a space on the bench. The rangy attacking midfielder – who can also play in either wide forward position – has never let Bayern down when called upon this season.

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-BAYERN MUNICH-SCHALKE
Musiala has caught the eye for Bayern this season / CHRISTOF STACHE/Getty Images

Thanks to his precise dribbling he is particularly well suited to creating his own shots against a well organised opposition – and if Didier Deschamps France are anything, they are exactly that.

Without wanting to go overboard with the Captain Hindsight act, the unpredictability that Musiala brings whenever he steps on the pitch could have been a potent tool in unlocking Les Bleus off the bench, particularly with Germany’s normal patterns of play nerfed for the most part.

With a game against a similarly stoic Portugal side to come, Low has a big decision to make. None of the forwards who featured on Tuesday are safe in their position after a series of meagre displays.

This could open the door for Musiala to feature as a game-changing impact sub in what is set to be a win or bust fixture for Germany.

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