Manchester United fans were able to catch a glimpse of 22-year-old Wolfsburg winger Julian Draxler at his very best in Germany’s 3-0 victory over Slovakia in the Euro 2016 first knock-out round. Linked to the Old Trafford outfit, in a reported £38 million deal, supporters of the English club will have been watching with intrigue as Draxler dazzled in the black and white colours of Germany.
An ever-present figure down the left flank, he was rewarded for his efforts as he notched both a goal and an assist to cap a brilliant, many would argue man of the match, performance in Lille. Throughout his 71 minutes spent on the pitch, he proved an absolute handful for the Slovakian defence, who struggled to get near him from the moment a ball was first kicked.
Draxler’s display was epitomised by his ability to take on his opposing defender, which he did so on eight occasions. In fact, there was not a single instance in which he was dispossessed during an attempt to beat his man. This artistry was put to devastating affect just minutes before half-time, he burst past Juraj Kucka, before laying on an inch perfect pass for team-mate Mario Gomez, who simply had to place the ball beyond Matús Kozácik in the Slovakian goal.
This proved to be the only chance the youngster would create all afternoon. Nonetheless, as his heat map shows, he proved a constant threat, receiving possession on the left, before launching an assault by cutting inside. His willingness to influence the game from the wing will surely excite Manchester United fans, who became increasingly frustrated with performances lacking in creativity under Louis van Gaal last term.
The arrival of Draxler could see Anthony Martial – who occupied a position on left-wing regularly last term – moved to striker. A centre forward role appears far more suited to the Frenchman, who boasts a clinical eye for goal, and given the licence to spearhead the Red Devils’ attack, he would surely thrive. Draxler would then be given free reign out-wide – a prospect that would terrify even the most experienced Premier League full-backs.
Despite playing just a single key pass, the German offered a substantial threat at goal against the Slovakians. He enjoyed great freedom cutting in from the flank and was consequently able to make three attempts at goal. He saw the first of these strikes blocked and the second flew wide of the post. However, he made no mistakes with his third, which he placed beautifully into the back of the net with a cultured close-range volley.
Draxler showed pace and trickery throughout his involvement and ultimately he proved too much to handle for a Slovakia defence that successfully shut-out a star-studded England strike force just six days previously. His efforts will certainly have caught the eye of Manchester United fans, who, if not aware previously, will now know exactly why the 22-year-old is rated so highly in his native country.
Featured image: All rights reserved by oriehnid