Tueunless you do it yourself! Niklas Fülkrug had the ball in his hands, but passed to Kai Havertz. He converted a penalty in the 68th minute of Germany’s 2-0 friendly victory over Peru on Saturday night in Mainz and the ball hit the post. The fact that he scored on the rebound didn’t help: by law, a penalty taker cannot play with impunity a ball that bounces off the post or crossbar again unless someone else touches it first; Referee Maria Caputi awarded Peru an indirect free kick.
Why didn’t Fülkrug convert the penalty that the Italian gave, judging by the video images, for a foul on attacking centre-back Niko Schlotterbeck? The Bremen striker has not only already scored two goals (12th and 33rd minutes), but is also considered a safe shooter from eleven meters. As a professional he converted 16 of 17 penalties in Hannover alone 96 in the 2017 game against Bayern. Meanwhile, Havertz most recently lost for Chelsea in the Champions League, even if that miss doesn’t appear in any statistics, because he was allowed to play again after a Dortmund player ran into the box too early.
The full jug is clarified. “I got the ball to give it to Kai,” said the two-time scorer. “Kai was introduced as the first shooter.” So history that was already written in the first game in the 2022 bloody World Cup was repeated: at the time, Thomas Müller also missed a penalty in a 2-0 friendly win over Israel; Munich, which was not nominated this time, also hit the post. All penalties after that were converted by Ilkay Gundogan, who was also absent from the squad.
Even if Fühlkrug ended up playing only a minor role in penalties, he played a leading role in Mainz. The top scorer in the Bundesliga has already scored five goals in five international matches this season. In a storm with two players called up for the first time by national coach Hansi Flick, it was the Bremen player who played a more prominent role in the first half with Timo Werner, then with Serge Gnabry until he was substituted in the 75th minute. Flick praised Fülkrug in no uncertain terms: “He scored goals in the style of a scorer, a nine.”
The experiment with the new offensive formation was generally described as successful, at least against the Peruvians, who missed out on the World Cup after losing to Australia in the playoffs. “I get here my situations in the penalty area. It’s great that I’m already so involved,” said Fülkrug, who has been successful twice as a target player in the center. After a long pass from Schlotterbeck to Havertz, Fülkrug converted his chest deposit and then raised after a sharp cross from debutant Marius Wolf when he fired from close range. The defender prevented another shot from Fülkrug by blocking the shot shortly before the break (44 min).
Offensive flexibility has been positive, thanks in part to the memory of the World Cup in Qatar. This is how Flick imagined the change of the system of two attackers in tactical theory. “We had a lot of staff at the center,” the national coach said. Captain Joshua Kimmich liked it too: “It was good for us that we always sat in the pits.” “Timo Werner has taken many steps forward and is very valuable to the team. This test was very insightful,” Flick said, and it didn’t sound like he wanted to go back to the old one-hitter setup so quickly.
Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine
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