EM 2024: Niclas Füllkrug – More than a joker in the German storm

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Written By Maya Cantina

If you believe Niclas Füllkrug, the defense looks away Scotland the start of the European Championships next Friday (9 p.m., ZDF And Magenta television) in return for Germany nervous. According to his logic, the defenders of the other German group opponents have it too Hungary And Switzerland I don’t feel like meeting the DFB team. There may even be unrest among the English, Dutch, Spanish and French at the prospect of playing against the Germans in the upcoming tournament. In any case, Füllkrug is convinced: “There are few teams that look forward to playing against our attack. That is a special level.”

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You could use this statement from the Borussia Dortmund striker met on Monday at the DFB base camp in Herzogenaurach, as exclusive self-praise, but that was not the intention: Füllkrug knows that he will only be on the bench at the start of the European Championship against the Scots if nothing unforeseen happens. The division of roles in the attack is clear: Kai Havertz is first choice, Füllkrug is the wild card – and he accepts this assignment professionally: “Kai has my maximum support. I wish him every goal.”

Havertz, Füllkrug and the other German attackers Maximilian Beier, Deniz Undav and Thomas Müller should solve a problem that accompanied the DFB team in previous failed tournaments: the lack of conversion options. As an example, a flashback to the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar: the Germans had 26 shots on target against Japan – and lost 1:2. The defeat could no longer be made up for; the team was eliminated in the preliminary round, just like at the 2018 World Cup. Also with penultimate European Championship test against Ukraine (0-0) The Germans failed due to a lack of precision in the finish.

Havertz enters the tournament ninth

At the tournament, national coach Julian Nagelsmann entrusts the starting position at the top to a man who is perhaps coming off his best season: Havertz contributed with thirteen goals to Arsenal FC’s second place in the Premier League. The former Leverkusen player is one of those professionals whose ideal position is the subject of intense debate. Nagelsmann even used him as a left back in November. But according to his own statement, Havertz has now found the perfect role. He recently said in the DFB team that he “clearly sees himself as a number nine.” Kicker-Interview. But he is also willing to accept appearances as an eighth or tenth player without complaining: “I am the type of player who can play in almost all positions offensively, comparable to Thomas Müller. I enjoy having the freedom on the field and being able to play in any space.”

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The problem with professionals who can be found in every room: Sometimes they are missing where you need them. In the last difficult 2-1 win against Greece, Havertz often fell behind, was invisible for a long time and was not receptive to high passes (but still managed to make it 1-1). Füllkrug is a different type of player, a classic, physically stronger striker. And someone who also travels to the European Championships with a lot of self-confidence. He played a key role in Borussia Dortmund’s participation in the Champions League final.

He views his suitability as a source of inspiration from the bench extremely positively: “I have had many good substitute appearances in my career and have also proven with the national team that I do not need much time to take action.” The group match of the World Cup is worth remembering 2022, in which Füllkrug as a joke scored the 1-1 final score against Spain. As a substitute, he decided the test against the Netherlands in March with his 2-1 winning goal. And who knows: a European Championship takes a long time. “It was rare that the starting eleven from the first match played the entire tournament,” said Füllkrug. He sees himself not only as a joker, but of course also as a challenger.

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