Football Features

Germany 5-1 Scotland: Five things learned as Wirtz and Musiala make Euros history

By CJ Smith

Germany 5-1 Scotland: Five things learned as Wirtz and Musiala make Euros history

Published: 22:22, 14 June 2024

Germany made the best possible start to their Euro 2024 campaign with a 5-1 thrashing of Scotland in Munich on Friday.

Under immense pressure as hosts, especially following three successive poor tournament performances, Die Mannschaft didn’t take long to get to work, with quickfire goals from Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala inside 19 minutes giving Julian Nagelsmann’s side a 2-0 lead.

Things got even better just before half-time as, after a VAR review, Germany were awarded a penalty and Scotland defender Ryan Porteus was sent off for a reckless challenge on Ilkay Gundogan. Arsenal forward Kai Havertz made no mistake from the spot, sending Angus Gunn the wrong way to give the hosts an unassailable lead at the break.

Niclas Fullkrug made it 4-0 with a thunderous strike in the 68th minute and even an Antonio Rudiger own goal couldn’t stop the hosts, who added a late fifth from Dortmund captain Emre Can, who was only a last-minute addition to the squad as a replacement for Aleksandar Pavlovic.

Here are five things we learned from the match in Munich.

1. Wunderkinder

Thanks to some uncharacteristically early recent tournament exits, too few people have failed to give Germany the respect they deserve heading into Euro 2024. But when the starting line-ups went up ahead of their opener against Scotland, you couldn’t help but be impressed by the quality within their ranks.

But while there will be narrative aplenty around Toni Kroos’ international swansong, it was Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala’s names that jumped out the most. The two youngsters will carry the hopes of Germany for years to come and, on the evidence of Friday night, for the present as well.

It was Wirtz who opened the scoring after just 10 minutes with a first-time shot from outside the box that, although probably should have been handled better by Angus Gunn, was delivered with excellent technique. At 21 years and 41 days old, Wirtz is now the youngest-ever German goalscorer at the European Championships — a record previously held by Kai Havertz who, of course, scored a goal of his own on Friday.

But as mentioned, Wirtz isn’t the only German wunderkind. Just 67 days younger is Musiala who, nine minutes later, rifled home a brilliant effort of his own to become the second-youngest German goalscorer at the European Championships.

And with the youngest-ever European Championships manager at the helm in Nagelsmann, the future is bright indeed.

2. Ryan Porteus’ debut to forget

Ryan Porteus wasn’t a part of the Scotland side that played at Euro 2020, so this was his major tournament debut. It really couldn’t have gone much worse.

Having already seen his defence leak two goals in the opening 19 minutes, the Watford man was then sent off following a VAR review for a terrible challenge on Gundogan. It was a challenge he had to make with the former Manchester City man lining up to score from close range, but it was high and out of control, fully deserving of a red card.

Porteus is the first player to be sent off on his European Championships debut since Austria’s Aleksandar Dragovic in 2016. Perhaps more embarrassingly, he’s only the second-ever Scotsman to be shown a red card at a major tournament and the first since Craig Burley against Morocco at the 1998 World Cup.

3. Kroos Meisterklasse

We mentioned earlier the narrative that will follow the retiring Toni Kroos at this tournament. On Friday, he showed exactly why so many are calling for him to change his mind at just 34 years old.

While the likes of Wirtz and Musiala wrote the headlines with the goals, it was Kroos who made Germany tick. Everything went through him. Whether it was quick one-twos in the middle or a 50-yard switch of play, Kroos brought out his full repertoire in Munich. In the first half alone, the six-time Champions League winner completed all 55 of his attempted passes, despite slipping or losing his footing on a number of them.

In fact, by the time he was rested in the 80th minute, Kroos had managed to misplace just one of a monstrous 102 attempted passes, which is a completion rate of 99%. Meanwhile, the veteran playmaker created four chances, played 15 passes into the final third and had 108 touches of the ball.

This might just be Kroos’ Euros.

4. Scotland restore some pride (and hope) on a miserable evening

Okay, so this was the heaviest defeat any side has ever suffered in the opening match of a European Championships and yes, there was plenty for Steve Clarke to worry about and ponder. Especially when equal at 11 men on the field.

But purely focusing on the entire second half where they played a man down, there was actually a fair bit for the Tartan Army to be proud of. After all, they only lost the second half 2-1 thanks to two excellent strikes from Niclas Fullkrug and Emre Can. And they even got on the score sheet as a Scott McKenna header forced an own goal from Antonio Rudiger.

We’re stretching for positives here. Clarke’s men managed just one shot, two touches in the opposition box and 0.01 xG all night. And every Scottish fan knows they must improve vastly against Hungary and Switzerland if they’re to have a hope of even finishing as one of the best third-place teams. However, the second half in Munich proved they’re at least capable of more than the wretched opening 45 minutes.

5. Fullkrug cameo a sign of Germany’s depth

As if the starting XI wasn’t terrifying enough, Germany flexed their depth from the bench in the second half, bringing on the likes of Leroy Sane, Thomas Muller and Niclas Fullkrug to augment the attack. And the latter extended his excellent record at international level with a thunderous effort in the 68th minute to make it 4-0 at the time, with Fullkrug now sitting on 12 goals in just 17 senior caps for Germany.

Coming to the tournament off the back of a 15-goal, 11-assist season for Dortmund, Fullkrug ended his second-half cameo with a 100% pass completion rate, 100% shot accuracy, one chance created and 100% aerial duel success.

If that’s what Germany can bring off the bench, they really do have answers for almost any questions thrown at them.