Three things we learned as Germany secured top spot in Group A at Euro 2024 despite being frustrated by Switzerland

Germany secured top spot in Group A with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in Frankfurt, despite being far from their exhilarating best

From the first whistle, Switzerland proved that they would cause Germany issues and put up far more of a fight than either Scotland or Hungary. Despite Robert Andrich’s disallowed goal suggesting Germany enjoyed the opening exchanges, in truth, they failed to create a clear chance on goal. A stubborn Swiss rearguard offered Jamal Musiala, Florian Wirtz, and İlkay Gündoğan very little in the attacking third, and when they won the ball back, they looked to hurt the hosts. Dan Ndoye’s well-taken opener stunned Germany, who failed to react to the setback before the break.

After the interval, the rhythm of the game remained largely the same. Despite dominating possession of the ball, Die Nationalmannschaft failed to create many clear-cut chances on goal. As well as this, Switzerland missed a number of opportunities to double their lead, even seeing a goal ruled out for offside. Nonetheless, Niclas Füllkrug would come to the rescue to secure the point that ensured the hosts topped Group A. It is undoubtedly a difficult pill to swallow for the Swiss, who will fancy their chances of progressing past the round of 16 should they replicate their performance against Germany.

Germany have severe defensive problems

After a 5-1 thrashing of Scotland and then a 2-0 victory over Hungary, many people started to believe that Germany had what it takes to lift the European Championship. This belief was shared by statistical data provider Opta, who, after the first two group games, concluded that Julian Nagelsmann’s side were the second favourites to win Euro 2024.

However, as suggested against Hungary, as well as their form prior to the tournament, Germany are far from ready to become European champions. Once again, this was evident against Switzerland.

When facing a well-organised and well-drilled side, such as Murat Yakin’s Switzerland, vulnerabilities in Germany’s game become evident. Naive and slow defensively, at times the Swiss were able to comfortably get into dangerous attacking areas due to their speed in attack, normally orchestrated by Bayer Leverkusen’s Granit Xhaka.

While Germany possesses an abundance of quality in the attacking department, defensively, there are problems. With Jonathan Tah suspended, Nagelsmann will have to make changes to his rearguard, and perhaps he could also elect to move Kimmich out of right-back, who failed to keep up with the speed and trickery of Dan Ndoye for large sections of the game.

Julian Nagelsmann shows his naivety

In the Bundesliga, whether it be at Hoffenheim, RB Leipzig, or Bayern Munich, Julian Nagelsmann has consistently proven to be one of the most intellectual managers in Europe. However, at an international level, against Switzerland, the 36-year-old displayed his lack of experience.

Prior to kick-off, Nagelsmann stated that he would not make any changes to the team that had started the last two group stage fixtures. With three of the back four just one yellow card away from a suspension for the round of 16, there were suggestions that this was an opportunity for the players on the fringes of the squad to show their quality, especially with qualification confirmed.

Regardless, the 36-year-old stuck by his guns, and it backfired significantly. The German rearguard was slow and sloppy, no more so than for Switzerland’s opener, and a yellow card to Jonathan Tah for a needless and reckless challenge confirmed that he will be out for the round of 16.

To win international competitions, you do not need to win every game; you just need to navigate the tournament. This was the perfect opportunity for Nagelsmann to manage the tournament effectively, but his naivety ultimately shone through.

Niclas Füllkrug should start over Kai Havertz

So far, for Germany at Euro 2024, their attacking line has been almost unstoppable. The trio of Musiala, Wirtz, and Gündoğan have caused Scotland and Hungary an endless amount of issues, but against Switzerland, the trio were largely ineffective.

However, despite their troubles, Kai Havertz stepped up to become Germany’s most dangerous attacking threat. Nevertheless, with a 20% shot accuracy, as well as missing two big chances, as per Fotmob, the Arsenal striker lacked the cutting edge.

Cue Niclas Füllkrug. The Borussia Dortmund centre-forward has been a reliable source of goals for the German national team, and once again, he came to their rescue. The 31-year-old provides a physical presence that Havertz fails to bring to the German attack, as well as offering more of a focal point than the former Leverkusen midfielder.

Going forward, perhaps Füllkrug should start over Havertz, with the Arsenal attacker rotating with Gündoğan in behind the BvB marksman. If Germany are going to win Euro 2024, then they need goals, and Füllkrug, more than anyone, provides that.

GGFN | Will Shopland

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