When Germany host England in the Nations League on Tuesday, Three Lions coach Gareth Southgate is hoping his side will not reflect on what has come of it.
Stuttgart-born Jamal Musiala is expected to play for Germany after opting to represent his native country rather than England in February 2021, despite spending much of his childhood in London and impressing at academies in Southampton and Chelsea.
The 19-year-old, who joined FC Bayern Munich from Chelsea in July 2019, has since become the club’s youngest debutant and goalscorer – and youngest Champions League player and goalscorer.
Musiala, who played for England teams from U15 to U21, also became the youngest player to represent Germany at a major tournament when he faced Hungary in the belated Euro 2020 finals.
Speaking to BBC Sport ahead of the game in Munich (7.45pm BST), he outlined his desire to achieve even more, his World Cup ambitions, his preferred position and why he has benefited from the football cultures of both countries.
“I really want to perform”
After a promising debut season at Bayern, Musiala was surprisingly nominated for Euro 2020. Despite being limited to just two brief substitute appearances, Musiala still made an impression by bringing in the goal against Hungary that sent Germany to the last 16 with steps.
With 11 caps and one goal, he built on that with an outstanding performance against the Netherlands in March while making an influential second-half appearance on the left wing 1-1 draw in the Nations League in Italy on Saturday led to calls for a starting place.
Musiala believes he benefits from the influence of two top-class German coaches with contrasting styles at club and international level.
He added: “We play a very offensive game with Julian Nagelsmann at Bayern, sometimes with just three at the back and a lot of attackers up front.
“It’s about ball control, positioning on the ball, but also good counter-pressing to regain the ball immediately after losing possession.
“Hansi Flick plays more aggressively with Germany than he did with Bayern. We want to recapture the ball high up to launch attacks. This also means that the opponent is further away from the goal. We practice our high pressing in training.
“I’m dying to perform well and be part of this squad – my first World Cup would be an amazing feeling.
“I want to go one step further, have more physicality, stamina, better scoring and defensive discipline.”
A tricky dribbler
Musiala’s strengths were evident early in his Bayern career, making his Champions League debut in December 2020 – just months after his club debut aged 17 – in a 1-1 draw at Diego Simeones Atletico Madrid.
“I was very nervous,” he said. “It was the biggest game of my career back then. I tried to play as freely as possible, not thinking about the situation and playing my natural game.”
Atletico’s experienced midfield of Saul Niguez and Koke struggled to catch Musiala’s movement between the lines, allowing him to dribble straight at their defence. He completed three dribbles in 76 minutes and proved his technical security in possession with a passing accuracy of 92%.
Musiala said: “Dribbling in a small space, tight control, beating players, that’s what I’ve always liked to do.
“I’ve been training these moves since I was little, with my dad. He encouraged me to compete and beat players – and I’ve always kept that to myself.
“In Germany we have a league in the academy for the under 10s, while in England we only have a league for the under 18s.
“You have a lot less pressure and more time to develop and you can play a lot more freely. With the tactics here in Germany you are taught to win at a young age.”
Although Musiala played mainly in lower central midfield last season, he was still able to contribute eight goals and six assists to FC Bayern. This equates to a goal or assist every 141 minutes and an increased appetite to score more goals.
“When you play in midfield you have to find different ways to join the attack and late runs behind defense can be very difficult to defend against,” he added.
Typed as a substitute for a German “Genie”.
Having graduated from Chelsea academy as a striker and attacking midfielder, Musiala has now played for Bayern’s first-team on left and right wing, as a number 10 and in a deeper role in central midfield.
He said: “There are a lot of things you do differently in midfield. When you’re on the pitch you have to be more aware of your surroundings, seek more passes from behind, sometimes make better decisions to hold the ball than dribble, and demonstrate defensive discipline to be in the right position.
“It will only make my all-around game better.”
Despite such versatility, it is widely expected that Musiala’s future for club and country lies in the role of the number 10 as a potential successor to Bayern and Germany legend Thomas Muller.
“Everyone knows that attacking midfield is my preferred position because that’s where I have the game in front of me,” he added.
“I can learn a lot from Thomas. Ever since my first training session, we’ve always talked about the game.
“The way he sees the game is brilliant because he sees where space is going to be before it even happens, he’s a few moves ahead.
“Before he receives the ball, he already knows which pass to play. He guides our structure when we press.
“If I get the opportunity to play higher up the pitch as number 10, I already have some ideas on what could improve my game.”
England will hope they don’t suffer from Musiala’s meteoric rise and forward thinking on Tuesday.