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Euro 2024: Wirtz, Musiala ignite Germany's Euro dreams

June 14, 2024

Germany beat Scotland in the opening game of Euro 2024 as the tournament finally started. Victory for the hosts has the potential to spark a memorable summer.

Florian Wirtz of Germany celebrates scoring the 1:0 goal with German player Jamal Musiala during the match UEFA European Championship
Germany achieved a 5-1 victory over Scotland, with younger talent making their mark in the early minutes of the gameImage: Mika Volkmann/IMAGO

After the Scotland fans had shown the home fans what it was to dance and Germany had shown Europe what a conservative opening ceremony looked like, it was time for some football.

Both Germany, the country and the team, have been waiting for Euro 2024 to finally begin. Indeed, in the last two weeks alone, the team has faced a debate about its goalkeeper and form, while the country is still reeling from the revealing results of the recent European elections.

Football was never going to change that, but it certainly felt like after all the talking about what a strong Germany performance at this tournament might do for the country, it was time to find out what this team would deliver.

Scotland's Lawrence Shankland, center, duels for the ball with Germany's Emre Can
Germany's defenders were hardly troubled all nightImage: Antonio Calanni/AP Photo/picture alliance

Statement win for Germany

The answer turned out to be a pretty perfect performance for the opening game of a home Euros. The hosts swept past Scotland with the speed of a team looking to banish the troubles of recent years. For the first time since 2016, Germany won their opening game at a major tournament.

"I don't think we could have made a better start. We wanted to start the tournament well and we did that," Jamal Musiala said afterwards. "We saw the atmosphere in the whole country and that's what we need."

There was no liftoff moment to match Philipp Lahm's goal in the opening game of the 2006 World Cup against Costa Rica, but the manner of the victory will have set crowds at fan festivals across the country jumping for joy.

Florian Wirtz's sweeping, 108 km/h strike into the far corner had coach Julian Nagelsmann exploding in a mess of bulging neck veins and clenched fists on the sideline. Musiala danced inside the Scottish defense before hammering the ball into the top of the goal to appropriately finish off Ilkay Gündogan's delightful pass.

Kai Havertz's penalty (which saw Ryan Porteous sent off) before the break was the icing on this Euro stollen. No Scotland, no party goes the song. By halftime, the dark blue wall of Scotland fans had been subdued. By full time, thanks to Niclas Füllkrug and Emre Can, the scoreboard read 5-1. This was Germany's party now.

Two days after Musiala said Germany had to make sure they didn't "die in beauty," the Bayern Munich midfielder played a key role in making sure Nagelsmann's side lived in it instead. A more vocal German crowd clearly felt the same way as both Musiala and Wirtz received quite the ovation when they were subbed off.

Niclas Füllkrug celebrates a goal for Germany
Germany were ruthless in the opening game of Euro 2024Image: Ariel Schalit/AP Photo/picture alliance

Wirtz, playing in his first tournament, did not look deterred by the atmosphere or the pressure of playing in a home Euros. Gündogan shrugged off suggestions he was out of place and form.

Musiala rediscovered his first touch at the right time, and Wirtz lit up the stage. So quiet was his evening that there was no need to talk about Manuel Neuer (there was nothing he could do about Antonio Rüdiger's freak own goal). Five goals from five different scorers — this couldn't have gone more to plan if Nagelsmann had drawn it up himself.

"In the first 20 minutes we were impressive," said Nagelsmann afterwards. "It was really important that not just one person got the flowers today but that we could distribute them."

Summer starts here

It was also a script that UEFA would have been delighted with, had they seen it beforehand. The hosts won in thrilling style after both sets of fans enjoyed an afternoon of beer and bagpipes in the sunshine of Munich's city center. United by football, indeed.

British author Musa Okwonga recently wrote, "This Euros, Germany is playing for more than just a trophy." One look at the developments across the country in the last two weeks makes that very clear. And even though a football team cannot solve that, if this is how Germany intends to play over the next month, then their impact will be noticeable and perhaps even long lasting.

As the sounds of Peter Schilling's 1983 hit "Major Tom" echoed around the Munich stadium after the final whistle, the crowd joined in with the chorus that famously includes the phrase "Völlig losgelöst" — German for completely detached. Liftoff indeed.

Edited by: Srinivas Mazumdaru