International football exists in a realm many football viewers struggle or refuse to understand for whatever reason. Fans spend hours championing the selection of Player A over Player B while predicting Player C will gatecrash late. Bla Bla bla.
Many among us ignore logical things like philosophy, system, functionality and more when partaking in these debates. In our heads the ‘best’ player naturally goes, but that isn’t always the case. While the majority of a teams squad can be guessed by the general populace unless you know for certain what the plans and intentions of the coaching staff are (both A and B through Z) then a surprise is always around the corner.
Now, we arrive at the surprise. Defending Champions Germany have left out Leroy Sane. With pretty much all teams having confirmed their final 23, this is easily the biggest omission from the World Cup to date. Shock and awe are the initial reactions but those who follow the squad closely aren’t totally blown away. Possibly because these fans are used to seeing the likes of Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose play big roles in their team over the years. If there is any fanbase that understands that sometimes you have to sacrifice the big fish for the betterment of the pond it is German fans.
Leroy Sane’s omission from the World Cup is being felt a lot more outside of Germany than in it.
— Alex Chaffer (@AlexChaffer) June 4, 2018
On paper, Sane looks like a no-brainer. A scintillating title winning season with Man City was capped off with individual honours. A sure selection right? Well it wasn’t enough for Joachim Low. Here lies the problem for Sane. He’s been given the chances by Low (12 appearances with only one assist to be exact), but he’s never successfully managed to transfer his club performances to international level. It’s really that simple. Low has never been able to marry Sane to the German system. The talk after the recent Austria loss was once again the problem Low faced getting the best out of Sane.
Why has there been such a discrepancy between club and country for Sane? This can be attributed to the fact that his role for club.and country are polar opposites. For Man City, Sane thrived in a wing based system that saw him stretch the field to its maximum. Isolating Sane in space was the game plan employed by Guardiola. On the other hand for Germany the wide players are instructed to support centrally far earlier leading to Sane having to deal with tighter spacial restrictions and more bodies to beat. That’s something he hasn’t managed to master just yet.
Sané doesn’t lack tight ball control in general. When he dribbles his ball control is amazing. But when receiving the ball turned backwards to the goal in a static position he struggles because he can’t make use of his pace.
— Max Bergmann (@MaxBergmnn) June 4, 2018
Sane currently is a contradiction to what has brought Germany success over the last decade. Their best performances have seen them utilise wide players to either provide an extra passing body in midfield or provide another goal-scoring outlet in the box. Their system is still built upon these principles and with Sane not proving himself to be able to carry out the tasks demanded a decision had to be made.
It truly is a shame that one of the world’s best young attacking players won’t be seen at the World Cup but Jogi Low has a job to do. Retaining the World Cup won’t be easy. Low and Germany will go with what has worked for them and at the time of asking that is not Sane.
At least Marco Reus is fit enough to partake. Silver lining.