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In Draxler, Germany see solution

By Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JUN 28, 2016 08:41 AM IST

LILLE: Germany’s coach Joachim Loew looks to have found the last piece of his jigsaw as they eye a fourth European crown, with Julian Draxler sparking the attack into life in the 3-0 Euro 2016 win over Slovakia.

The 22-year-old, who was part of their 2014 World Cup-winning team, was on target for Germany’s third goal in their last 16 clash on Sunday and wreaked havoc down the left wing, leaving the Slovak players in his wake.

“A great day for me and for the team,” a beaming Draxler said. “I am happy to have helped the team. I have worked hard in training and am thankful for the coach’s trust.”

Draxler, a surprise inclusion in the World Cup squad in Brazil as a teenager, almost did not make the cut this time due to an injury late in the season and a less than convincing first campaign at VfL Wolfsburg. Germany’ s feared strike-force was stuttering in the group phase with three goals in three games despite repeated attempts from Loew to find the right mix in his front line.

On Sunday, Loew dropped Mario Goetze for the first time in the tournament after the attacking midfielder misfired in his previous three starts.

Instead, he opted for the speedy Draxler, who had started only the first group game against Ukraine, on the wing while also keeping forward Mario Gomez up front, and the coach was proved right with his attack looking sharper.

CONSTANT THREAT

Draxler was a constant threat, with the Slovaks struggling to keep up. He out-sprinted two players and shook off a third in the 43rd minute, cutting the ball back for Gomez to tap in Germany’s second goal in a beautiful move.

Draxler was also key in gluing Loew’s midfield and attack, which looked disjointed in their previous games, together.

“The coach asked me to do that. He gave me a lot of self-confidence. He trusts in my quality and wanted me to search for the one-on-ones,” said Draxler.

“Obviously, I hope I can play again in the next game but for that you’ll have to ask the coach,” he added.

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