Germany prove they can give England a run for their money with talent show of their own as London-raised Jamal Musiala and in-form Florian Wirtz send warning to rivals during Scotland rout

Germany could have a gilded quartet to take Euro 2024 by storm, with Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz part of it
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  • The German attacking talent shone as Scotland crumbled in Munich
  • Young stars Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz are part of a gilded quartet
  • Listen to It all starts! Why Euro 2024 could give us another ‘old school’ tournament
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England does not have a monopoly on young attacking talent here at the 2004 European Championship and Scotland is now painfully aware of that. Steve Clarke’s team was dismantled in Munich by the cleverness and intelligence of German football and if the hosts continue in this manner it could hurt many others further down the line.

Yes, this was just Scotland, it wasn’t even good Scotland. No, this wasn’t the version that played so well in qualifying, beating Spain and Norway and losing just once. This was the reincarnation that emerged in his tournament, having won just once – against Gibraltar – in their last nine games.

Judgments about Germany must therefore be tempered. The Scotland supporters showed up, but their players didn’t, not really.

However, if so much fuss is made about the front four set to feature for Gareth Southgate’s England team against Serbia on Sunday, then Germany has a gilded quartet of its own.

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We know of two. Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz are known to us from playing football in the Premier League. The other two are Bundesliga boys, Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz, the dashing playmakers around whom the Germans hope to build their national team over the next decade.

Germany could have a gilded quartet to take Euro 2024 by storm, with Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz part of it

Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz are the dashing playmakers Germany hopes to build around

Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz are the dashing playmakers Germany hopes to build around

Musiala, from Bayern Munich, was born to an English father in Stuttgart, grew up in Croydon and was on Chelsea’s books until the age of 16. He could have played for England, but chose his country of birth.

The 21-year-old was excellent here and the best player in the game. Playing nominally on the right, he drifted through the vast green acres of the Scottish midfield to cause chaos at will. He scored his team’s second goal, driving a striking run into the heart of the Scottish defense just before Clarke’s team were awarded the penalty for the third goal.

Wirtz is now a few months younger. After making his Bundesliga debut at the age of 17 – a record – he became German Footballer of the Year as Bayer Leverkusen won the title.

His influence on this game was just as good. He almost scored in the opening minute with a strike down the left, although an offside flag might have denied him. He found the net nine minutes later when he moved smoothly through midfield from a pass from Joshua Kimmich and swept a low shot off Angus Gunn’s right hand into the net.

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With Gündogan, now of Barcelona but a key part of Pep Guardiola’s golden Manchester City years, playing just behind Havertz in a German formation that encouraged expression and flexibility, Scotland’s back five simply couldn’t close their doors fast enough before a new opened.

Gündogan’s part in the second goal was sublime. The speed of his feet in the center of the field gave him space to play a perfect pass to Havertz. The Arsenal striker had the presence of mind to set Musiala up for the finish.

Scotland were lost from the moment they got the first goal. Their supporters – who had gathered behind the goal where all the damage had been done – sat silently in their seats as their hangovers from a day of drinking suddenly arrived at speed. For Clarke’s plan to work, there had to be a period of stalemate, time for German frustration to build.

But it never happened. His back five left his team outnumbered and out of the picture in midfield and the big challenge for him now is to get chastened players off the floor in time for their next date with Switzerland in Cologne on Wednesday.

Bayern Munich star Musiala could have played for England, but opted for his country of birth

Bayern Munich star Musiala could have played for England, but opted for his country of birth

Wirtz was German football's player of the year when Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga title

Wirtz was German football’s player of the year when Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga title

Steve Clarke's plan was to frustrate Germany, but their attackers ran rampant against an exposed backline

Steve Clarke’s plan was to frustrate Germany, but their attackers ran rampant against an exposed backline

Julain Nagelsmann's team would be under pressure, but that idea has evaporated

Julain Nagelsmann’s team would be under pressure, but that idea has evaporated

In the 85th minute, Scotland had not yet managed to score a shot or corner. Their late goal was a fluke and somehow the rather comical nature of it felt appropriate. Against that background it wasn’t even a consolation.

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Germany will have to keep some of its best football in reserve. Summer tournaments are a test of consistency and endurance. Flying only takes you so far.

However, this was very impressive for Julian Nagelsmann’s team. The Germans would be under some pressure ahead of their home tournament. That idea evaporated almost as soon as the shrillness of the opening songs disappeared into the summer Bavarian air.

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