Germany 1-2 Spain (Fabian 7′, Olmo 69′; Amiri 86′)
It was a bitter end to a brilliant tournament for Germany’s Under-21s. Looking to defend the title they won courtesy of a 1-0 win over Spain in 2017, Stefan Kuntz’s side struggled to bounce back from a disappointing start, which saw them fall behind when Fabian’s 7th-minute effort found the bottom corner.
Having found a foothold in proceedings though, Germany pushed in search of an equaliser and put themselves on the front foot at the start of the second half. Yet the wind was taken out of their sails when Olmo doubled Spain’s advantage after Nübel spilled another fierce strike from Fabian 20 minutes from time. A moment to forget for a man who so often came to Germany’s rescue throughout their time in Italy.
It was arguably the moment that saw Germany’s title defense slip beyond their grasp and, while Amiri’s speculative effort in the 88th minue pulled a goal back there was to be no miraculous comeback.
A side brimming with top-flight experience must now learn from the pitfalls of the professional game the way they have from the opportunities. Several of these players have demonstrated the quality to suggest they could one day make the step up to the senior side and Joachim Löw will undoubtedly be keeping an eye on some to see just how they react to a setback like this.
In the end this exciting Under-21s side weren’t able to become the first German men’s team to defend a major title, but while silverware wasn’t won, the next generation have proven that Germany still have an exciting crop of players ready to lend themselves to the latest transition.
As it happened!
Full time verdict: Spain are deserving winners on the night as they exact their revenge on Germany to prevent them from becoming the first German men’s side to defend a major title. Amiri’s goal proved nothing more than a late consolation effort with Spain smartly seeing out the game in the dying minutes.
90′ – Three minutes of time are added on.
88′ – GOAL! Germany 1-2 Spain
A bolt from the blue as Germany get a goal back. Amiri lets rip from range and when his effort skims off the head of Vallejo the flight path of the ball proved unstoppable. They can’t can they?
83′ – That was the chance to break the record that Waldschmidt had been waiting for as he pokes wide from close range following a clever back heel from Nmecha. Germany are throwing caution to the win as they go in search of pulling at least one goal back.
80′ – It should be three as Soler crashes an effort off the bar with Nübel statuesque between the sticks.
75′ – Spain are threatening to get a third with Germany letting their heads drop. It looks like the fight has been taken out them.
71′ – Former Wolfsburg striker Borja Mayoral is brought on for Fornals.
69′ – GOAL Germany 0-2 Spain
What a shame. After a promising spell from Germany they fall further behind after a mistake by Nübel. Germany had the numbers advantage, but when the Schalke keeper spilled Fabian’s initial effort, Dani Olmo was sharpest in reacting to the rebound clipping a cheeky chip over the stranded Nübel.
67′ – Spain break in a 3-on-3, but Dani Olmo’s shot is tame and comfortably dealt with by Nübel.
66′ – I can’t tell whether Jens Lehmann is annoyed by Vallejo not being sent off or still deeply hurt by what happened in 2006.
63′ – Germany are ramping up the pressure, but Spain are doing well to contain the danger. Henrichs’ sees a shot is blocked before Amiri curls one over looking for the top corner. They are getting closer and the game is opening up now.
61′ – Florian Neuhaus is stripped off any ready to come on as he replaces Suat Serdar, the surprise inclusion in the starting line-up.
Germany are starting to throw caution to the wind.
59′ – Waldschmidt’s frustration having been marked out of this game for the most part is starting to show as he again goes for an audacious effort from range. He proved what he’s capable of against Austria, but Spain wil be happily to limit him to long-range potshots.
55′ – Oyarzabal’s evening is cut short as the man who set up Fabian for the opening goal is replaced by Soler.
53′ – Germany are slowly but surely turning the screw as Waldschmidt sends an effort wide after snatching at the chance to have his first on goal from 25 yards out.
49′ – A moment of madness from Dahoud who leaves a pass inside his own area way short, but is fortunate to see Tah come to his rescue at the vital moment.
47′ – Promising start. After good work by Henrichs down the left the ball breaks for Amiri in the box. His shot bounces dangerously in front of Sivera, who spills the ball before Vallejo beats Waldschmidt to the loose ball to clear for a corner which is punched clear.
Second half! We’re back underway in Udine. Germany were building momentum at the end of the first half. Can they maintain it to get their title defense back on track?
Half-time verdict: Fabian Ruiz’s stunning strike separates the sides at the break and Germany can have few complaints with the exception of Jesus Vallejo’s lack of a red card. Stefan Kuntz’s side were slow out of the blocks, got caught cold and are seeing a title defense slip through their fingers. They’ve worked their way back into the game, but still need to pose a greater threat.
43′ – Germany earn themselves four consecutive corners. Each delivery is more dangerous than the last until the final one which ultimatey forces Germany to play it all the way back to Nübel.
39′ – This game is being played at a breakneck pace, but both sides are struggling to conjour up the final killer pass with both backlines holding firm.
35′ – From the free-kick, Serdar glances a header over the bar.
32′ – The first yellow card of the game is shown to Jesus Vallejo after he scythes down Luca Waldschmidt with a rash challenge. The former Frankfurt center back is lucky to escape a red card there given how high and late the challenge was. Waldschmidt is lucky to escape serious injury.
31′ – It has to be said, Benjamin Henrichs is not having a good game at left-back. Going forward his desire to cut inside is too predictable, while at the back he making unnecessary mistakes and getting dragged out of position.
Plenty of Germany fans in attendance in Udine.
28′ – Nadiem Amiri and Spanish goalscorer Fabian Ruiz have just gone head-to-head off the ball after a challenge between the two in midfield. No need to get out the handbags though.
25′ – Germany are queing up for shots as the ball pinballs around the Spanish box after a burst of pace from Waldschmidt opens the game up. None of the shots are struck cleanly though making Sivera’s intervention relatively simple in the end.
22′ – Pirlo would have been proud of the effort that separates the two sides tonight.
18′ – This is more like it from Germany, who are starting to force Spain onto the back foot as Amiri sees a shot blocked behind for a corner which comes to nothing.
16′ – Germany break into the final third for the first time in the game. Öztunali waits for support, which Amiri provides. Unfortunately his drilled cross fizzes across goal without getting the all-important touch.
15′ – Luca Waldschmidt may be the tournament’s top scorer, but he’s barely had a touch so far, let alone a sniff at goal.
12′ – Spain have found their groove very quickly in Udine, but Germany aren’t doing enough to effectivly break up their build up play and when they do, often give the ball away before the can spring into action.
Germany are up against it early in Udine.
7′ GOAL! Germany 0-1 Spain
A costly decision in midfield allows Fabian Ruiz to break into a pocket of space just outside the box after Baumgartl commited to a challenge. No one closes him down and his accepts the invitation to lash a stunning effort into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
7′ – Germany are getting pinned inside their own half as Spain’s Oyarzabal has a shot blocked from inside the box.
6′ – The largest cheer of the night still belongs to the remote control car that stole the show before kick-off.
4′ – Spain are settling into an early rhythm with their passing, but it’s obvious there’s going to be a feeling out process both sides will need to go through in the opening exchanges.
We’re underway in Udine. Mission: title defence is almost complete. Right now it’s hard to know what is stranger, the referee wearing pink socks or the remote control car that just delivered the ball to the center circle!
What a heartthrob
The fans in Udine are on their feet as the legend Andrea Pirlo brings out the trophy Germany and Spain are battling it out for for the second time in two years.
Tah and Klostermann are already in the senior set-up, but I wonder who else Germany head coach Joachim Löw will have his eye on tonight. This side certainly have a handful of players who could realistically make the step up in the next couple of years if not sooner.
Germany’s title defence has been a wild ride so far with 14 goals scored, 50 per cent of which have come from Luca Waldschmidt. Reminder: He’s one goal shy of breaking the EURO U21 record for most goals scored in a single tournament.
15 minutes until kick-off!
Still time to make your pre-match drink of choice.
“I’ve never experienced anything quite like it”
Waldschmidt to ARD: “It’s all about having fun at the end of the day. There were definitely times in the past where it’s been hard to pick my head up, but that’s part of the game. I’m really enjoying how things are going right now. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Our chance is there, but now we have to use it.”
A first for Germany?
No German men’s team have ever been able to defend a major title. Could this talented Under-21 side be the first to do so?
A personalised Klopp team talk
Serdar the surprise
Suat Serdar is the more surprising of the two changes Germany have made as the Schalke midfielder comes into the starting line-up for Florian Neuhaus. Serdar has only made two appearances off the bench all competition, but joins Dahoud and Eggestein in midfield. After completing his one-game ban, Benjamin Henrichs returns in place of Maximilian Mittelstädt at left-back.
Germany’s confirmed line-up: Nübel – Klostermann, Tah, Baumgartl, Henrichs – M. Eggestein – Dahoud, Serdar – Öztunali, Waldschmidt, Amiri
Two years ago today…
Waldschmidt on fire!
Luca Waldschmidt became the first German player to score in four consecutive games at a U21 finals and could set a tournament record tonight. The Freiburg forward has matched Marcus Berg’s seven goals scored in 2009 and needs just one more goal to be the outright record holder.
Read more: Waldschmidt Richter proving pleasant surprises
Greetings from Benny
Benedikt Höwedes was part of the Germany Under-21 side that beat England 4-0 to claim their first ever European title and sent a message to the current crop of players. “We all grew up on the back fields, today the big stage belongs to you. You have the huge chance to win the European title like we did in 2009. I wish you lots of luck and we’ll see each other in the stadium.”
Team news: Germany
Augsburg’s Marco Richter was forced to miss the breathtaking semifinal win over Romania due to a calf problem and, while he himself has expressed his desire to play in the final, head coach Stefan Kuntz is expected to name an unchanged line-up from the six-goal thriller.
Possible line-up: Nübel – Klostermann, Tah, Baumgartl, Henrichs – M. Eggestein – Neuhaus, Dahoud – Öztunali, Waldschmidt, Amiri
Germany haven’t had the best of luck at major tournaments of late. The men’s side failed to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup in Russia and the women’s side fell short against Sweden in Women’s World Cup just yesterday. However, in their incredibly talented Under-21 side there remains hope that silverware is in reach as they look to defend their title against Spain, the side they beat 1-0 in 2017 to claim the European crown.