You can well imagine how three amateur soccer players from the Rhineland would sit in front of the television with satisfaction if they watched soccer on Tuesday evening. Marvin Störmann, David Pütz and Jannis Becker are the names of the players in the fifth division club 1. FC Düren, who had previously played ungrateful roles to prove Jamal Musiala’s talent. It was in mid-October when the three were beaten one after the other by the 17-year-old Musiala in Düren’s 0: 3 against FC Bayern in the first round of the DFB Cup.
Well, on Tuesday, Störmann, Pütz and Becker could see: A footballer like Atlético Madrid’s defender Mario Hermoso, who is a five-time Spanish national player, does not necessarily look better against Musiala.
Bayern’s 1-1 draw at Atlético Madrid was not necessarily a game that was about the result, after all, the Munich team was already the group winners and the first sixteen in the Champions League. So it was a game in which it was about “some knowledge”, as coach Hansi Flick, who had changed and experimented a lot, explained in the press conference. And even if he didn’t want to spread all of these findings publicly – he couldn’t avoid disclosing one thing: Yes, Musiala had played a good game.
Flick had changed nine times compared to the 3-1 win against Stuttgart at the weekend. Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski and Leon Goretzka stayed in Munich to protect themselves from the top game in the Bundesliga against Leipzig on Saturday. Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry also sat on the bench initially. Musiala played in the Müller position from the start. Bright Arrey-Mbi, a second 17-year-old, played for the first time ever, as a left full-back in a system with three central defenders and David Alaba as captain in the middle, which should remain a rarity.
One of the findings was that it took against deeply defending Spaniards Müller and Gnabry to compensate for Joao Felix’s opening goal from the 26th minute. They came after an hour, and finally Müller got a penalty, which he converted himself in the 86th minute. Arrey-Mbi, actually a central defender, didn’t look too happy when he conceded a goal after a throw-in that fell over his side. And Musiala was no longer on the pitch in the closing stages when the equalizer succeeded. But until he was substituted after 76 minutes, he was the most conspicuous from Munich.
Musiala winds around the opponent
For example, he was more noticeable than winger Leroy Sané, who was given the chance from the start for the first time in around a month. The national player, whom Flick had recently urged to pay more attention to the defensive, ended up in the left full-back position in between, due to the many changes in the second half, without attracting negative attention. But this time he did not have a dangerous goal finish.
Musiala, who can also play on the grand piano, but is best in the offensive center, gained space with his dribbling, played a few small passes that suggested a fine feel for the space around him, followed up if necessary. And after 30 minutes he dribbled towards goal that it reminded of his solo against Düren in October. At that time he ran around three opponents in the slalom in a very small space in the opposing sixteen and shot at the outside netting. This time he shot a little further past from a little further distance, but he played defender Hermoso beforehand with a similarly smooth, fast movement. The Spaniard shook his head in horror as he trotted back.
Physically, Musiala still has some catching up to do, says Flick
Musiala, just like the German U17 national player Arrey-Mbi, came to Munich from the youth team at Chelsea in the summer of 2019. Musiala was born in Stuttgart, but after two appearances for the German U16 he is now an English junior international, most recently he made his debut for the English U21. He recommended himself with a number of conspicuous offensive actions and already two goals, against Schalke and Frankfurt, after five substitutions in the Bundesliga. In the cup against Düren he made his debut in the starting line-up, most recently against Bremen he played for the first time in the league from the start.
On Tuesday, Flick said almost word for word what he always says when asked about Musiala: that you have to be careful about praising him, that he still has some catching up to do physically in duels with adults. In fact, Musiala looks a little more youthful and slim compared to other similarly young talents in the Bundesliga, for example his English friend Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund. But, Flick always emphasizes: Musiala’s huge football skills, the fine technique, are unmistakable. And the caution in praise becomes more difficult.