After a difficult season for Wolfsburg following a club record transfer, Draxler is Germany’s leading forward at the Euros. And credit must go to Löw who has managed his progress superbly, writes DW’s Ross Dunbar.
This was finally the Germany Europe was expecting. The world champions dispatched Slovakia 3-0 in the last 16, brushing off their opponents with a purpose and swagger that was clearly missing in their group stage fixtures in France.
At the heart of what was easily their best performance of the tournament was Wolfsburg’s Draxler, whose fleet-footed brilliance created the second goal before he volleyed in the third himself.
The 22-year-old was excellent throughout, claiming his second goal for the national team on his 22nd appearance and his first in a competitive game.
Whether to include Draxler in the side has been a hot topic at the team’s training camp, with Thomas Müller and Mesut Özil all-but guaranteed their places in the forward line. Draxler was given a starting berth against Ukraine and Poland to open the competition and he shone in the second match while Germany largely disappointed.
Given Löw’s habit of pulling the trigger on less-established players, Draxler’s continued inclusion suggests he has moved ahead of Mario Götze in the pecking order.
After warming the bench at the World Cup two years ago, Draxler now appears to be blossoming into one of Germany’s leading players – and at the age of only 22.
He is finally producing the goods at a major international tournament after years of unfulfilled promise.
Draxler’s performances since breaking through at Schalke have been a source of both frustration and delight. A player blessed with such talent was expected to do so much more for a club without a Bundesliga title in its history. A long-term injury disrupted his development at a crucial juncture of his Schalke career when he was expected to own the No.10 position in the team.
In the win over Slovakia, Draxler returned to the left-side of Löw’s formation and the key difference from previous games was Germany’s fluidity in the final third. Draxler was at the heart of this and his excellent technique helped Germany exploit space going forward.
Drifting across to left again after a spell in the center, Draxler laid the second goal on a plate, dribbling on the outside as he does so well and sliding the ball into the path of Mario Gomez. His own effort was less elaborate as he finished off a loose ball at a corner kick with a well-struck volley.
The way Slovakia crept back into the game for a period after half-time may be one cause for concern for the Germany coach. But three goals finally dusts off the cobwebs and should quieten the doubters for another week before Germany take on either Spain or Italy in the quarterfinals.
The make up of Löw’s team might look different against top class opposition – as he has suggested in the weeks before the tournament. But Draxler has probably done enough to be one of the first names on the team sheet.
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