Football Features

“We can now call him world-class” – Five things learned as Germany and Argentina draw in Dortmund

By Steve Jennings

Published: 21:47, 9 October 2019 | Updated: 15:59, 12 February 2020

Germany and Argentina played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Dortmund on Wednesday evening.

Serge Gnabry kept up his fine form by opening the scoring in the friendly before Kai Havertz put the hosts 2-0 up.

But Argentina’s substitutes changed the game after the break, with Lucas Alario and Lucas Ocampos striking back for the visitors.

Here are five things we learned from the draw.

1. Gnabry earns his world-class label

There is simply no stopping Serge Gnabry at the moment. Tottenham are still having nightmares about the former Arsenal winger, who bagged four fine goals in Bayern Munich’s 7-2 victory in north London last week.

Gnabry plays more centrally for Germany, which allows him to be even more a goal threat. He had found the net nine times in his 10 international appearances before this one, and he made it 10 in 11 with a well-taken goal to open the scoring.

Not long after the opener, Gnabry provided the assist for Germany‘s second, which was clinically dispatched by Kai Havertz. What’s more, the Bayern star worked hard to win the ball back on the rare occasion he lost possession.

If up to this point in his career Gnabry had been labelled a sporadically excellent attacking player for club and country, his recent consistent form in front of goal suggests we can now call him world-class.

2. Havertz is the future of Germany

Germany often wait until players reach the age of 23 or 24 before promoting them to the position of a regular player for the senior team, but the quality of Kai Havertz has expedited that process.

The 20-year-old scored his first senior international goal, latching onto Gnabry’s pass to make it 2-0 from close range. It’s becoming clearer that Havertz will be central to any success Germany celebrate in the next few years.

Joachim Löw’s decision to drop the likes of Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng from his squad was clear a sign of things to come. The Germany boss is now prepared to put more faith in youth, and Kavertz is one of the main beneficiaries of that shift in philosophy.

The only concern will be Germany‘s drop in performance after the break. Sometimes experienced players are required to see out games, and Löw will be rueing his young side’s inability to hold onto their lead.

3. Anonymous Dybala shown up by super sub Alario

After seeing a potential move to England fall through in the summer, Paulo Dybala – who reportedly almost joined Manchester United and Spurs – is experiencing a revival at Juventus.

Maurizio Sarri appeared to suggest Dybala was not part of his plans before the season began, but the forward has proved to be an important player for Juventus, scoring in the weekend victory over Inter Milan at the San Siro.

Dybala’s increased game time saw him earn a start for Argentina, but the 25-year-old was completely anonymous until he was taken off in the 62nd minute.

His performance was made to look even worse when his replacement, Lucas Alario, scored within four minutes of coming on with a brilliant header. Dybala will hope his next international outing is more eventful.

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4. Scaloni has a knack for game-changing substitutions

Lionel Scaloni’s starting line-up wasn’t the most inspiring XI without the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero. Messi was suspended, while the absence of Di Maria and Aguero is more of a contentious issue.

But the omission of those players was eventually justified by Scaloni’s substitutions. Argentina’s squad may lack the quality of those aforementioned attackers, but Alario and Lucas Ocampos made their case with goals from the bench.

Half-time arrival Marcos Acuna also gave the visitors more drive from midfield, all of which showcased Scaloni’s knack for making game-changing decisions mid-match.

Argentina were totally outplayed in the first half, but Scaloni will be delighted with the response from his players – particular the substitutes – after the break.

5. Ter Stegen does just enough to prove his point

Much of the talk going into the match centred on the German goalkeepers, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Manuel Neuer. Would Ter Stegen finally be handed a start after voicing his disappointment about a lack of game time?

The answer was yes. Ter Stegen made his first international start for 14 months and did just enough to prove his point: perhaps he should be Germany‘s number one, given his performances for Barcelona and Neuer’s advancing years.

Ter Stegen conceded twice on the night but could do little about either goal. The first was a pinpoint header and the second took a deflection. Aside from the goals, Ter Stegen was comfortable with his hands and his feet, giving Löw something to think about before the next game.