İlkay Gündoğan – first doubted, now top scorer

İlkay Gündoğan – first doubted, now top scorer

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Status: 19.06.2024 23:34

İlkay Gündoğan has played a key role in the German national team reaching the round of 16 of the 2024 European Football Championship. The captain was discussed, but now he is the top scorer of the tournament.

Toni Kroos fulfilled every wish. He switched back and forth between German and Spanish, patiently answered questions about whether Germany was now the favorite, professionally warned that winning two tournament games in a row was not a real success, and he also named his player of the match.

He had hesitated before, saying, “I don’t like that kind of thing.” But when a reporter whispered that the answer “Gündoğan” would suit him, Kroos said: “Okay, then I’ll take Gündoğan.”

İlkay Gündoğan “Player of the Match”

This meant that UEFA’s decision to make the captain of the German national football team “Player of the Match” was approved by the highest authority. İlkay Gündoğan had also forced himself into the nomination, as he provided the assist for Jamal Musiala’s 1-0 goal and scored the 2-0 after perfect preparation by Maximilian Mittelstädt and Kroos before that.

“I’m very happy for İlly,” said Kroos, after all the captain had to convince some sceptics and has now done so impressively. İlkay Gündoğan is currently the best scorer at the 2024 European Championship with three assists and one goal.

The discussions about him were at least allowed. In the 4-2-3-1 system of national coach Julian Nagelsmann, Gündoğan rarely seemed to be the driving force in the games before the European Championships, although he was more often the case from a more defensive position.

But experts and fans probably also had to get used to the fact that there was no longer any need for impulses in the form of long passes behind the opponent’s defense line or flat passes into the path of the striker.

Wirtz and Musiala circle around Gündoğan

İlkay Gündoğan is now more of the pole around which the two young stars Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala orbit, as well as striker Kai Havertz, as long as he has not yet been substituted for Niclas Füllkrug.

Gündoğan creates space and serves as a passing station for lay-offs and short passes in the combination play that the German team likes to play through the middle, according to their coach’s wishes.

“I always wanted to remain patient. I always wanted to fulfil my duties on the pitch without taking myself too seriously,” said Gündoğan on Wednesday in Stuttgart after the DFB selection had secured its place in the round of 16 with a 2-0 win against Hungary.

Victory against all odds

They managed to do this despite some resistance, which Kroos had already predicted for the match against Scotland, but which did not materialise in the 5-1 opening win. Hungary were dangerous in attack in the first half and initially alert at the back. It was important to stick to it, and that is what Gündoğan did in a duel with Willi Orbán and Péter Gulácsi before the 1-0.

Before the match against Scotland, Gündoğan admitted that it bothers him when his abilities are questioned, when the already traditional discussion is fueled as to why the 33-year-old midfielder is so much better at the club.

However, the fall height has become smaller in this discussion. Gündoğan was not as convincing and influential at FC Barcelona last season as he was at Manchester City. There may now be another mismatch, a major tournament with the national team, which İlkay Gündoğan at least helps to shape.

Praise from the island: “One of the best”

A former Manchester City teammate needs no further evidence to form a final opinion. Jack Grealish, who missed out on making the final squad for the English team, wrote in his Instagram story about a close-up photo of İlkay Gündoğan: “I can’t describe how good this guy is. He is truly one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of playing with.”

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