Few young players have grabbed headlines more frequently this season than Bayer Leverkusen playmaker Florian Wirtz. Always tabbed as a top prospect in Germany, Wirtz has truly broken out in 2021-2022 and has been one of the best players in the Bundesliga. Real Madrid have been one of a number of big clubs linked to Wirtz, and if any Madridistas had doubts about his quality, this goal he scored on Sunday against RB Leipzig should dispel some of those doubts.
Wirtz has been busy scoring and assisting for Bayer this season. He scored his fifth goal of the campaign in beautiful fashion against Leipzig.
It is important to keep individual plays and highlights in context, but there are four things about this specific goal the 18-year-old scored that merit special consideration.
You can watch a highlight of the goal embedded below. It is the first highlight of the major events in this blockbuster Bundesliga battle.
Florian Wirtz’s goal was the result of technique, intelligence, and composure
The first part of the play is actually cut from this truncated highlight, but it was an important part of the play for those of us watching it live. Wirtz made a really nice scoop pass to midfielder Exequiel Palacios behind him.
And this is the part that makes the goal. The pass itself was aesthetic, but it became useful when Wirtz capitalized on it. Instead of just standing around and admiring the pass or getting into position to recycle the ball, Wirtz took notice of the gaping space behind the RB Leipzig defense.
He made the run immediately after sending the pass, knowing he could create something with his movement. But he didn’t just make any old run. No, no, he ran diagonally into the heart of the penalty box, knowing that the defender closest to him would not have the body position to block out a pass. He also knew that the other defenders would not be able to make the proper recovery or track his run. Finally, he knew that Palacios could see the angle of his run and deliver the ball into the heart of the area, right as Wirtz found himself there.
That all shows you his intelligence. However, you still need the technique to execute after making a run, especially a diagonal one. Wirtz’s technical quality is outstanding and places him above any other young player in the Bundesliga. He showed it with his graceful first touch, which set up a composed finish past goalkeeper Josep Martinez.
Florian Wirtz is already one of Europe’s star players
As if that were not enough, Wirtz did one more thing on this play that deserves praise. After making the touch, he made sure to keep his body squared off in front of Angelino and maintain a strong center of gravity so that the Leipzig wide man could not block the shot or take the ball off him without risking a red card for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.
Wirtz’s technical quality, composure, quick decision-making, and innate feel for the game were all on display here. Very few 18-year-old players can score this kind of goal, which came from nothing and set the tone for Leverkusen’s big win over Leipzig.
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Real Madrid do not have to sign Wirtz. They may not have the space or opportunity to do so. But Wirtz should very much be on the list of top young players they are monitoring. With five goals, six assists, 2.3 key passes per game, and 1.8 dribbles per game, the German attacking midfielder is already one of Europe’s best. He has the quality to fit the Merengue club.