For 66 minutes on Thursday night at the Al Bayt Stadium, it looked like Kai Havertz’s World Cup was going to end on a whimper. Germany were rapidly witnessing their World Cup dreams fading away. Costa Rica had equalised and Japan had gone ahead in the other game against Spain. Havertz , who played no part in the second group game against Spain, was left out of Hansi Flick’s starting lineup again.
There was a possibility Germany would be eliminated without the 22-year-old leaving any impression. Coming from the bench, he certainly did that in his 35-minute cameo. Netting twice with equally impressive finishes to turn the tide of the match and offer some hope for his nation. Even if in the end Havertz’s goals could not save a sinking ship, the moment of inspiration provided can hopefully lead to vast improvement at the club level for Chelsea.
The illusive forward remains a mystery in SW6. What is his best position? Are Chelsea playing to his strengths? Is he overhyped? All of these questions bare some relevance and legitimacy. Thursday night’s showing certainly gave weight to the idea something is to blame on Chelsea’s part. Although his performance against Japan, the only game he started at this World Cup, looked very similar to disappointing ones in Royal Blue.
Graham Potter is likely pleased a player who was expected to go deep at this tournament is heading home early, unscathed by injury and not exhausted by a tiring workload. Havertz will hopefully be channelling some of that frustration at the international level into his disappointing Chelsea form of late. He has been deployed in a number of different roles.
Sometimes as the central striker, others as more of an inside forward coming in from the right or left. For Germany, his position is not that drastically different, despite what some may suggest. He is still frequently used as a centre forward, effectively the role he played when he replaced Thomas Muller on Thursday. His facial expression when receiving Budweiser’s Player of the Match award gave the look of a disappointed kid on Christmas morning, who had just been given a Wii after asking for a PlayStation 5. Don’t worry Kai, the pigs in blankets are still to come.
Finding Havertz – which isn’t the title of a Chels- ified version of Pixar’s iconic movie about a lost fish – should be one of Potter’s big objectives in the second half of the season. Havertz in Qatar proved his ability to finish chances, uncover precious space inside the six-yard box and use the right technique to ruthlessly finish chances. We have seen all of this in glimpses at Chelsea. But glimpses will need to be turned into something more substantial to turn Kai’s Qatar frown upside down.