EM 2024: Friday is the duel of the wonder boys

EM 2024: Friday is the duel of the wonder boys
EM 2024: Friday is the duel of the wonder boys

Wirtz and Musiala against Yamal and Williams: On Friday there will be a showdown between the four super youngsters of the European Football Championship in the quarter-finals.

Ordinary potatoes or maybe tortillas? One thing is certain: When Germany and Spain meet in the European Championship quarter-finals on Friday, it will be the long-awaited duel between the most convincing teams to date. Four exceptional youngsters will be playing for their colors on the glamorous stage of the European Championship: Florian Wirtz (21) and Jamal Musiala (21) for Germany and Lamine Yamal (16) and Nico Williams (21) for Spain. The four-way check highlights not only sporting strengths and culinary weaknesses but also the remarkable lives of the super-boy quartet.

Between whirlwind and viral hit: Florian Wirtz

When Germans refer to themselves as “potatoes,” they are being self-ironic. Despite the wide variety of culinary options, potatoes in all forms still reign supreme in German kitchens. This also seems to apply to the 12-member Wirtz family from Pulheim near Cologne. When their youngest offspring, national player Florian, was recently asked to rank well-known potato dishes, he spontaneously put the “normal potato at number one” – ahead of fries, gratin, etc. The quirky and funny thing has not only become a viral hit. The song about the Wirtz potato can also be heard at Ballermann.

Football gratin with oomph

In terms of football, Florian Wirtz is anything but a “normal potato”. More like the finest potato gratin with plenty of oomph. With his unstoppable dribbling, his brilliant passes and his powerful finish, the attacking midfielder helped Bayer Leverkusen to the first championship title in the club’s history. The DFL then voted him player of the season. At the European Championships, Wirtz literally unleashed the current wave of German football euphoria. His 1-0 goal in the opening match against Scotland was the gateway to the new summer fairytale.

In the remaining three games of the European Championship, Wirtz did not convince everyone despite his huge potential. When the first critics began to speak out, none other than football legend Lothar Matthäus (63) came to his aid: “Anyone who criticizes Wirtz has no idea about football,” said Loddar. With his market value of 130 million euros, the Pulheim native currently leads the boy quartet.

Talent inherited – girlfriend little known

Florian and his nine siblings undoubtedly inherited their sporting talent from their parents. Father Hans Joachim, now Florian’s advisor, was a football coach for a long time. Mother Karin was a handball coach. Sister Juliane (22), who plays for Werder Bremen, has also made it into professional football. Sister Sophia, on the other hand, looks after Florian’s social media fans – there are 2.4 million on Instagram alone. Wirtz, who will probably stay at Bayer for another year after the European Championships, is popular – even among female fans. He is said to have been with his girlfriend Aaliyah since 2022 – not much more is known about the beauty at his side. Will she be able to cheer him on from the stands again on Friday in the number 17 jersey?

“Bambi” was yesterday: Jamal Musiala

Slender legs, doe-brown eyes: A few years ago, his training colleagues gave Jamal Musiala the nickname “Bambi”. He still moves through the opposing ranks as gracefully as a young deer – now even more muscular and effective than before. Musiala is perhaps the player of the tournament so far. He can be trusted to do anything – and he has delivered in all four games. With three goals, he leads the list of goalscorers. A pass rate of 92 percent, a top speed of 34.71 km/h and running distances of 33.63 kilometers leave no questions unanswered: That’s world class! When recently asked at a press conference about his role as the vulnerable “Bambi”, he said: “I’m no longer ‘Bambi’, I’ve shed the status of the young super talent that you have to look out for.”

Buddy duel with Jude?

With his appearances for Bayern Munich and the national team, the shy Jamal has earned a lot of respect, an annual salary of 9 million euros and a market value of 120 million euros in just a few years. It was not always clear that the Stuttgart native would send German fans into ecstasy. Born in Stuttgart, his Nigerian-German parents emigrated to England with little Jamal. There he initially played for Chelsea FC – and for a long time also for English youth national teams. So it’s no wonder that he and Jude Bellingham (21) are best buddies. Will there be a direct duel between Jamal and Jude in the final on July 14th?

Maultaschen as a single passion

In TV interviews and with his five million Instagram followers, Jamal Musiala not only charmingly talks about his German-English past. He also repeatedly pays homage to his Swabian homeland and its culinary showpiece: the Maultasche. Musiala regularly rewards himself with the filled pasta, as he says: “For lunch, dinner or as a snack – Maultaschen are always in my fridge.” He is currently apparently only preparing the dumplings for himself – Musiala is single.

Promise of the future of world football: Lamine Yamal

When Lamine Yamal whirls around the pitch, some football fans think of their own youth: “What did I do when I was 16?” One thing is clear: Lamine Yamal Nasraoui Ebana, his full name, is not a normal 16-year-old. He is one of the greatest future prospects in world football – and he keeps his word. The son of a Moroccan father and an Equatorial Guinean mother, he was born on July 13, 2007 in a suburb of Barcelona. He joined FC Barcelona at the age of five and has been shaking up the football world on the right wing ever since. Embroidered on his shoes: the flags of the home countries of his parents, who immigrated to Spain. However, Lamine Yamal gives his opponents little opportunity to look at them: his sprints and hooks with which he overcomes the opposing defense lines are too fast.

Between billions in compensation and child protection

The numbers that Lamine Yamal’s young career can boast are always impressive: youngest player in European Championship history, 90 million euros market value, 8.3 million Instagram followers, a transfer fee set at one billion euros and an annual salary of 2.5 million euros. Not bad “pocket money” for a 16-year-old – on the one hand. Because when Lamine Yamal plays at the European Championship in Germany, strictly speaking, the German Youth Protection Act applies to him. This allows young people of his age to carry out professional activities until 11 p.m. at the latest. So if a European Championship game takes place at 9 p.m., such as the final on July 14, Lamine Yamal would legally have to finish his shift at 11 p.m. – including possible extra time, penalty shootouts, showers and interviews. Whether the then 17-year-old actually moves into the final with Spain one day after his birthday will also be decided by the quarter-finals on Friday.

Wing spinner with a tough fate: Nico Williams

Two days before the final in Berlin, Nico Williams will turn 22 on July 12th. Together with Lamine Yamal, the left winger forms the most feared wing pairing at the European Championship. When the Athletic Bilbao man starts his sprints at a good 34 km/h, many defenders are left behind. The fact that Nico Williams sprints over obstacles is symbolic of his entire life so far. His parents Maria and Felix fled from Ghana to Spain 30 years ago. His mother was pregnant with his older brother Inaki, who later also became a professional at Athletic Bilbao. When they arrived in Spain, the parents were initially arrested before they were granted asylum and settled in Bilbao. “When you hear my parents’ story, you want to fight even harder to give back everything they sacrificed for us,” brother Inaki once said.

“We want to become European champions”

The two brothers grew up in the poorest of circumstances – and today they are the pride of their parents, the Athletic Bilbao club and two national teams. While Inaki chose the Ghanaian national team, Nico plays for Spain with great success. The shooting star of the tournament so far, with a market value of 60 million euros, is currently said to earn 10 million euros a year – and the trend is rising. Big clubs like Chelsea FC have long been after him. But he and colleague Lamine Yamal share a dream: “One day to share the dressing room at FC Barcelona.” Numerous female fans want to share life with Nico Williams – and there is hope. Williams is currently single after a liaison with influencer Lucia Correa that lasted a few months. At the moment, Williams and Lamine Yamal only have one goal: “We want to become European champions.” Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala will do everything they can on Friday to prevent the party marathon of their Spanish counterparts.

Source: Stern

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