Tactical Insights

Germany manager questions Barcelona’s use of Ilkay Gundogan

Germany manager Julian Nagelsmann has blamed Barcelona’s heavy use of Ilkay Gundogan for the midfielder’s underwhelming showing during the recent international break.

Despite clear success for the team – Germany beat France 2-0 before seeing off the Netherlands 2-1 – Gundogan has faced criticism for two mixed showings, with his performance in the first game against the reigning world champions of particular concern.

Asked to explain Gundogan’s performances, Nagelsmann suggested the 33-year-old is struggling with fatigue from barely being rested by Barcelona.

“Ilkay was very self-critical against France and mentioned that he lost possession of the ball a lot,” Nagelsmann said. “However, he handled the situation excellently. [Against the Netherlands], he was much more consistent.

“Illy plays the full 90 minutes in every game for Barcelona. He’s not as fresh, having played many games, which can also be a factor.”

Ilkay Gundogan

Gundogan plays a major role at Barcelona / Mateo Villalba/GettyImages

Gundogan has featured in all 42 games for Barcelona this season across all competitions, with 36 of those outings coming as a starter.

In total, Gundogan has played 3,375 minutes at club level this year, more than any other Barcelona player. Jules Kounde and Robert Lewandowski are the only other players to see over 3,000 minutes to date.

Gundogan’s performances as Germany captain have faced plenty of scrutiny in recent months, with German FA vice-president Ralph-Uwe Schaffert questioning whether he was even the same player that represents Barcelona.

“llkay Gundogan plays outstandingly for his club and then plays in such a way for the national team that one could think: Has he sent his less talented twin brother?” Schaffert said last year. “I don’t understand it!”


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