Will Germany's World Cup debutante, rising star Musiala emerge as X-factor?


One of the circulated footage in German sports activities media up to now yr reveals Jude Bellingham sitting alongside Jamal Musiala, each 17 on the time and sporting England jerseys. The image spotlights the friendship between two gifted gamers who as soon as performed in opposition to one another at ping-pong tables and online game consoles, and have now turn into dominant within the German Bundesliga. Whereas Bellingham already had his first assertion efficiency for England on Monday, his good good friend is set to do the identical on Wednesday when Germany meet Japan in World Cup Group E.

“I think we have a really good team with which we can get really far,” Musiala tells ESPN. “The quality is there to be a contender for the title. We go to this tournament with the mindset to be able to win the cup. You have to believe in it. I do.”

The 19-year-old has travelled to Qatar with enormous ambitions and the end result of Germany’s World Cup title quest depends upon Musiala greater than some individuals could understand. In the course of the first half of the season, he was the standout participant at Bayern Munich, the place head coach Julian Nagelsmann has begun to construct the whole system round Musiala as his No. 10.

Germany head coach Hansi Flick, who mentored the up-and-coming expertise throughout his time at Bayern Munich and wished him to decide on Germany over England (the place Musiala had performed for Chelsea‘s academy from 2011 to 2019) has additionally recognized his former pupil because the centerpiece of his offensive construction, with Musiala offering a component of unpredictability due to his dribbling abilities.

“Musiala is a prime example of what we like to call a ‘needle player’ — a player who carries the ball through small gaps and tight spaces in-between multiple opponents. His technique, but especially his agility and quick decision-making, allow him to do that like not many others,” says tactical analyst and coach Martin Rafelt.

Musiala could very effectively be essentially the most gifted pocket footballer on the earth alongside Barcelona and Spain midfielder Pedri. The conflict between the 2 heavyweights on Sunday may very well be epic. However whereas Pedri is broadly admired in Spain, Musiala continues to be underrated in some fan circles at dwelling. One reporter just lately famous that Germany’s soccer has been predominantly about counter-pressing and depth up to now decade and {that a} skinny teenager with gentle toes contradicts a perception system.

“A playing style like Musiala’s is often regarded as too risky, but it’s immensely valuable to break down compact defenses, especially to do that quickly and frequently without the need of being extremely patient,” Rafelt explains. For many years, Germany’s model of soccer has revolved round passing. The World Cup-winning groups of 1974, 1990 and 2014 all relied closely on exact and clever passes, whereas dribbles had been a lot much less outstanding. Musiala embodies a extra provocative model in that he purposely strikes into closely coated areas and takes on one and even two opponents.

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“I think I play more offensively than last season where I was often used as a No. 6 and had to learn that first,” Musiala says. “Now, I have found a position in which I feel really comfortable. I also like my rhythm and take it from game to game.”

What helps Musiala other than his pure footballing abilities is how he offers with psychological stress. The shut relationship along with his mom, who raised him and his youthful sister on her personal, and the truth that he reveals barely any curiosity in luxuries helps him concentrate on his recreation.

“In my time as a reporter, I have met few players who are so down-to-earth, which in my opinion is not only due to the fact that he has not been part of this millionaires’ game for long but also because of his character and mindset,” says Munich-based journalist Kerry Hau who has been following Musiala since he arrived at Bayern in 2019. Hau additionally attributes Musiala’s humbleness partly to his upbringing in England the place academies could be a bit tough for younger prospects. “He is a guy who had nothing gifted to him and had to work hard for everything.”

Being decided and pushed in his occupation lets him perceive the sport faster and strategy it with extra maturity than most 19-year-olds even on the highest stage. “I always try to work on myself,” Musiala explains. “For example, my scoring in front of the goal was already good. Nevertheless, I worked hard on it to be as efficient as possible, mostly with [Bayern’s] assistant coach Dino Toppmoller after training. Now, I’m even more often in positions from which I can shoot. We train exactly the situations that I also get during the game. The kind of goals I score now, I’ve already done in training.”

Musiala’s capability to not solely create goal-scoring alternatives for others by way of his dribbles but additionally his urgency to attain himself could also be essential for Germany throughout the World Cup, because the four-time champions shouldn’t have a top-class striker of their squad.

“He has outgrown the prospect status since the summer, which you can tell from how he interacts with reporters,” Hau says. “He is much more relaxed and not so shy anymore. He is a man now who does not have any issues to keep up physically and with the demands of playing in the starting line-up every three days.”

Maybe some discover it worrying that Flick has to depend on a 19-year-old who’s presently in his second full season on the senior stage, however Musiala is undoubtedly a generational expertise with unparalleled qualities. “He shares a taking part in model with Mario Gotze and to a lesser extent with Kai Havertz, Leroy Sane and Julian Brandt, but he is able to do it with more drive towards the goal than Gotze and needs even less space than the other three,” Rafelt says.

Mario Gotze was Germany’s golden boy a decade in the past who fell from grace within the years after his World Cup-winning purpose in 2014. Due to a resurgence within the Bundesliga following a transfer to Eintracht Frankfurt this summer season, Flick has given Gotze a brand new likelihood by deciding on him for the World Cup squad. The on-the-pitch similarities between Gotze and Musiala are a bonus for each in that Gotze can function a backup for the beginning playmaker, whereas Musiala could possibly profit from Gotze’s expertise.

A mentor-like determine for Musiala is Manchester Metropolis‘s Ilkay Gundogan, who has been quoted telling Musiala throughout video games that he would shield the areas behind him as a result of Gundogan desires his younger team-mate to thrive. The veterans who had been a part of the 2018 World Cup marketing campaign which resulted in a gaggle stage exit know that Musiala brings one thing to the desk nobody else can.

His unpredictability is strictly what Germany might have, notably in video games during which lengthy spells of possession go nowhere. It absolutely is a heavy job for a 19-year-old to turn into a possible difference-maker for a nation like Germany, however Musiala has the instruments to deal with it.

Supply hyperlink – espnfc.com

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