Manchester City's playmaker Ilkay Gundogan seems the perfect match to help Germany survive their Nations League encounter against England in Munich. While German national coach Hansi Flick is making a secret out of his starting eleven for Tuesday night's match, the 31-year-old midfielder's inside knowledge of English football seems to turn him into a valuable force.
Ahead of the 2014 World Champions' second appearance in this season's Nations League, Flick announced to change his first eleven. German media report, that Gundogan is going to start in the German shirt. After his two goals against Aston Villa made the Sky Blues take the Premier League title, the German turned up in a good mood for a press conference.
Robustness and a high-quality performance level are needed to kick the can down the road against the Three Lions, the England Expert stated, reports Xinhua. "England can appoint three national teams, all meeting the highest international standards.
I expect a very strong opponent with us having to deliver our best," the City's midfielder said. Despite having won several trophies in the Premier League, the German will still take Tuesday's duel as a paramount event as his national team career so far has been far from an overall success story.
Facing one of football's best-equipped opponents can come near a turning point for the man who missed several major tournaments due to injuries. Despite his outstanding quality, Gundogan never managed to develop into a regular in the German team.
Flick and his predecessor Joachim Loew mostly counted on Bayern's midfield duo Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. The disappointing 1-1 draw against Italy in this season's Nations League opener seems to have made Flick change his mind.
"He turned into what you call an influential element in our game when sent on the pitch," the 57-year-old coach said. The German coach praised Gundogan's qualities as "a player but at the same time as a human. The team benefitted from his experience and his ability to deliver stability."
He is happy about the success in the Premier League, Flick added. Gundogan's tasks seem as clear as they are challenging. Flick doesn't expect less that to gain control in midfield and increase the game speed. Gundogan spoke about securing the German goal but at the same time providing a convincing game up front.
"It's important to show some skills in front of the English goal and get into dangerous spaces. That's something we need to combine to be successful," he commented. The upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar might be Gundogan's last big tournament.
"I am very much looking forward to the games. And of course, I want to be successful." A well-oiled performance might even help the German midfielder find a solution for his club future. There are rumors about him possibly leaving the oil-rich club this summer.
Gundogan admitted to being in talks with his club while media reports speak of the interest of several top European sides to sign him despite a valid contract until 2023. "I am confident talking about the World Cup. I don't see many teams far above us," he said. As it seems, Gundogan has understood, it is up to him to first make Germany beat England and then add something successful in Qatar.