Germany and Nagelsmann still trying to solve their Ilkay Gündogan puzzle

Feted and successful at club level, Germany’s captain has never had much of an impact on the national side. Will this change at Euro 2024?

Ilkay Gündogan creeps across the pitch at the Max-Morlock stadium, hands over his face. He has just missed a header from less than five yards out. Fans who had been confidently shouting “Tor” are looking at each other in disbelief. Shortly after, Gündogan is tearing his hair out because his pass to Jamal Musiala rolls out of play. It is not the first misunderstanding between the pair that evening.

Nuremberg, 10 days ago, Germany’s friendly against Ukraine. The game ends 0-0, and the home team have by no means disappointed, whatever the result might suggest. Gündogan has not got into the game but Julian Nagelsmann chooses to praise him. “Illy played well,” the head coach says. He stands up for the midfielder, protects him, and he has reason to do so.

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