Germany and Spain faced in Krakow to decide which team will win the European Under 21 Championship. Both sides had been the top squads in the competition, and the match was quite intense.
Despite the fact it was an U21 game, the talent level on both sides was extremely high. Germany featured a somewhat alternative squad – since most of this team is in the Confederations Cup – but they still had quality elements such as Niklas Stark, Janik Haberer, and Nadiem Amiri. Meanwhile, Spain had Gerard Deulofeu, Dani Ceballos, Hector Bellerin, Sandro Ramirez and Saul Niguez as their star players.
The stage was set for a game that fans wouldn’t forget. And while the match did not live up to expectations, it had everything one would have asked for in a decisive match. Spain could not repeat what they had been doing in past matches, while Germany did a good job to capitalise on their chances while also protecting their advantage late in the second half. That was enough for Germany to come away with a 1-0 win, and the title of European Champions at the U21 level.
Lots Of Intensity During The First 45 Minutes
The first half began with both sides moving the ball forward, and there were chances quite early. Germany started with a header that came off the post, and Spain answered back with a nodded ball from Bellerin that went a bit wide off the goal.
On the other hand, Spain showed a will to move forward, but Germany always seemed a bit better positioned in the middle of the pitch. That stance would be key as the game went on.
After the 25th minute mark, however, Germany started to control the pace of the game. Die Mannschaft constantly pushed the ball through the flanks, and some of their best moments came through the right flank. They lacked a bit of technique at times, but their tactical superiority was enough to maintain possession.
Germany Score Shortly Before Half Time
Spain had lots of troubles to get into a clear attacking position, because Germany was extremely well positioned on their own end. Spain came close to score with a header from Saul in the 30th minute, but his effort went wide. The Atletico Madrid player was by far Spain’s most active player in the final third, but he lacked company to upset the opposing defensive line.
As such, it did not take long for Germany to score the first goal of the match. Following a cross from the right wing from Jeremy Toljan, a header from Mitchell Weiser sneaked into the far post to put Die Mannschaft in front at the 40th minute. The goal came out of nowhere, but it was deserved considering what we saw during the first 45 minutes. The first half ended with a 1-0 lead for Germany, and Spain needed answers quickly to turn things around in the second half.
Spain Tried To React After The Break
The pace of the game changed a bit in the second half. Spain changed their approach, and both Asensio and Deulofeu started to gain more importance on the side. The manager also made a key substitution, as Gaya replaced Jonny on the left back position. Gaya was far more attacking-minded, and his sole entrance pushed the lines forward for Spain. Saul also came close to score with a long-range shot, but the goalkeeper made a good diving stop nearing the 58th minute mark.
Germany struggled to secure possession in the early going, but that did not stop them to create chances. Serge Gnabry was quite active on the left wing, and often orchestrated some good attacking sequences. In fact, the new Bayern Munich signing was inches away from netting Germany’s second goal, but his finish from close range found Kepa’s feet, who deflected the ball away. It took them around 15 minutes to settle, but once they did, Germany recovered the same possession dominance they had during the first half.
Spain did not give up, though. The entrance of Iñaki Williams in place of Sandro Ramirez added another pacey threat in the final third for La Roja, while Germany slowly sat deep on the pitch looking to hit the counter. The results were almost immediate. Dani Ceballos came agonizingly close to equalise with a shot from outside the box, but his attempt went inches away from the goal. And Deulofeu also came close to score, but the opposing defence did a good job to protect their slim advantage.
Final 15 minutes
The final 15 minutes saw a one-sided match, in which Spain had absolute control of the possession while Germany chose to play on the counter. Knowing La Roja had lots of quality in the final third, Germany did something similar to what they had done against England, and chose to play with a more defensive stance. Spain sent Borja Mayoral into the pitch to add another attacking threat, but Germany countered with Dominik Kohr and Amiri in an effort to add fresh legs into the middle of the park.
Spain did not find the route to equalise, and Germany suffered less than one would have expected. The German side had far more clarity in the final third, and ultimately that was the deciding factor in this match. It was not as lively as some fans expected, but Germany was slightly better when it mattered the most. That was enough to give them the title, their second ever at this level.
Germany: Pollersbeck (6); Toljan (7), Stark (6), Kempf (6), Gerhardt (5); Haberer (5) (Kohr (-) 83′); Weiser (7), Meyer (6), Arnold (6), Gnabry (6) (Amiri (-) 81′); Philipp (5) (Öztunali (-) 87′)
Spain: Kepa (6); Bellerin (6), Mere (5), Jesus Vallejo (5), Jonny (4) (Gaya (6) 51′); Llorente (6) (Borja Mayoral (-) 83′), Saul (6), Dani Ceballos (6); Marco Asensio (5) , Sandro (4) (Williams (5) 71′), Deulofeu (6)
Goals: Weiser (1-0, 40′)
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