This one grew on me. When I saw it live I was pretty hyped up, but I also thought it was the kind of pass that most professional footballers should be making. Yet I see more brilliance in it now. Mesut’s initial touch to take the ball around a hapless Marcus Rashford is pretty dope, but my real appreciation comes from how he scans the pitch before releasing the pass. Özil first glances to the left side of the field, and spots nothing. Then, he looks centrally, basically right at Maitland-Niles. But it’s only once Özil looks away, toward the right side of the field, that Ainsley begins his run. Normally, this would be a missed opportunity, but Özil is so thoughtful on the pitch that he checks back again centrally and finds the pass. If Ainsely had managed to nick this ball around Slabhead, this could have been a beautifully worked goal.
Fun facts about this match can be found here.
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