The majority of the talk from England fans since the start of Euro 2020 has revolved around the talented crop of youngsters at Gareth Southgate’s disposal, with a lot of the Three Lions’ fanbase crying out for the starlets in their squad to be handed more game time.
Borussia Dortmund duo Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho are just two of the players England fans are desperate to see more of, with the pair afforded a combined total of just 37 minutes so far this tournament.
Well, we’ve good news and bad news for the aforementioned fans; the good news is there’s a youngster plying his trade in the Bundesliga who came through the England youth set-up who’s likely to feature in some capacity on Tuesday. The bad news is it’s neither Bellingham nor Sancho.
Jamal Musiala made his first appearance at Euro 2020 against Hungary on Wednesday night, subsequently becoming the youngster player ever to feature for Germany at a major international tournament
Joachim Low gushed over the teenager when asked about his performance after the game, complimenting his confident approach to the contest and his work rate off the ball.
Were Musiala to have been brought on in the final few minutes of Germany’s final group game after they’d already secured qualification, you’d be forgiven for thinking Low was simply offering the youngster some experience and his introduction to the game was a token gesture.
However, Die Mannschaft’s place at Euro 2020 was hanging by a thread when the 18-year-old was brought on with ten minutes to play, with Germany needing a goal to avoid being dumped out of the European Championship at the group stage for just the second time in their history.
In calling for Musiala, Low clearly has plenty of trust in the Bayern Munich man, and his faith was massively repaid as he produced a stunningly mature performance and Germany bagged a late equaliser to take them through to the last 16.
Given Musiala has proved his worth and he has the trust of his manager, there’s every likelihood he’ll play some part in Germany’s clash with England at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday, and England fans who’ve suffered years of heartbreak can probably already sense the dreaded narrative that could play out.
As if being beaten by Germany yet again at an international tournament wouldn’t be bad enough, a player who actually played for England at youth level could have a huge part to play in their latest failure – talk about rubbing salt into the wound.
Southgate has been lambasted for his decision to stick with two holding midfielders throughout Euro 2020, yet if Musiala is handed a start or even comes off the bench at Wembley then two anchor-men will be the absolute minimum England need on the pitch.
The Bayern man’s ability to drift past players as though they’re not even there and find space in tight areas make him a nightmare to defend against, and the thought of him running at Harry Maguire and John Stones is honestly enough to give you sleepless nights.
As Low eluded to with his post-match comments following the draw with Hungary, even at 18 years of age it’s clear Musiala has got a mature head on his shoulders and he’s aware that to make it into a team like Germany’s he needs to offer much more than just pretty football around the edge of the box.
His display in their final Group F clash was full of running and energy, and in the ten minutes he was on the field he completed as many challenges as centre back Antonio Rudiger managed in the entire 90 minutes.
Given his work ethic and ability with the ball at his feet, Musiala could be a key player for Low on Tuesday, as he’ll be able to provide an attacking threat as well as helping out the defence if Southgate opts to start the likes of Mason Mount or Jack Grealish in central midfield.
It’s almost painful to say it, but the man who used to don an England shirt at youth level could be about to plot their downfall, and Southgate’s side are going to have to be at their very best to nullify Musiala’s talents if he makes an appearance at Wembley.