A Tale of the Kai “Left Wing Back” Havertz Experiment
Kai Havertz has been part of the German national team for the best part of the last five years, scoring 14 goals in 41 caps for the national team. In this duration, Havertz has featured in two major tournaments, scoring twice in Euro 2020 that saw Germany crash out to eventual finalists, England, as well as goal in the disastrous 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign.
After elimination from the World Cup, Germany remained in the trenches, as Hansi Flick lost four of his last five games, which caused him his job. Julian Nagelsmann came into the fray and changed the fortunes of the nation that is scheduled to host the forthcoming European Championship next summer. Nagelsmann began his German adventure with a huge win over France, and followed up with a tour across the Atlantic that saw Germany defeat USA and draw with Mexico.
Yesterday, Germany hosted Turkiye in the Olympia Stadion, and Nagelsmann made the decision to deploy Kai Havertz as a left wing back,
“Kai won’t always be in this position. I have a great idea, he’s an exceptionally good footballer. This is a very good option. He won’t always play as a classic left-back.”
I have seen Havertz deployed in multiple positions in the course of his fledgling football career, but starting at left back was quite an interesting preposition. Havertz started the game well, scoring after just three minutes, when he latched onto Leroy Sane’s drilled pass in a crowded box to put it past Altay Bayindir.
Havertz locked horns against Turkiye’s right winger, Irfan Kahveci, making strong defensive contributions – 100 percent tackles won, five clearances, three headed clearances, three interceptions and one block. It was a largely entertaining game from start to finish with the Turkiye players scoring some incredible goals, but what proved to be the match winner came in rather unfortunate circumstances when Abdulkarim Bardakci’s attempted cross to the danger area hit Havertz’s trailing arm, thereby leading to a penalty after a VAR check.
Yusuf Sari stepped up and smashed a spot kick that was almost saved by Kevin Trapp but this turned out to be Nagelsmann’s first loss in his fourth game in charge. Germany is a far cry from the nation that used to dominate in the yesteryear and Nagelsmann has his work cut out for him as all of Europe’s finest arrive in Germany next summer to knock Italy off their perch as the defending champions.
As for the Havertz experiment as a left wing back, I don’t think it is something that will be repeated, for his sake and everyone connected with Germany.
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