News : European Championship final – German U21 national team is European champion – sport
Stefan Kuntz and the German U21 national team fulfilled their dream of winning the European Championship with a thrilling final performance. The selection of the German Football Association won a high-class and fast-paced final against feared opponents Portugal on Sunday in Ljubljana with 1-0 (0-0) and crowned themselves European champions for the third time after 2009 and 2017. Lukas Nmecha from RSC Anderlecht, who was also the top scorer of the tournament with a total of four goals, provided the acclaimed goal (49th minute). For the DFB-Elf it was the next triumph after 2017 in the third final in a row under successful coach Kuntz.
A few days before the European championship of the national team headed by national coach Joachim Löw, the young German footballers sent an impressive signal that despite a lot of criticism, there is also a lot of quality. The appearances in Hungary and Slovenia should also look forward to Löw’s successor Hansi Flick.
In contrast to the golden generation with the later world champions around Manuel Neuer (“You will be European champion”) in 2009 and their successor around Serge Gnabry eight years later, the 2021 selection before the start of the finals was not one of the title candidates. Again and again it was said that it was not the strongest year, the market value comparisons with top nations sometimes annoyed the players. As a tournament team par excellence, the DFB-Elf fought their way to the final.
The German team had to overcome resistance in a difficult group stage and a thrilling penalty thriller in the quarter-finals against Denmark – and that was also the case for the first time in the final. The nimble and tech-savvy Portuguese got off to a better start. A shot from Tiago Tomas just missed (8th), Amos Pieper saved against Diogo Dalot (13th) in dire need.
But the mentality troop around leader Niklas Dorsch (KAA Gent) quickly fought their way into the game and fulfilled Kuntz’s wish as required. “Makes spectators and families proud,” said the successful coach shortly before the game – and his boys did.
Florian Wirtz from Leverkusen, who had decided the semi-finals against the Netherlands with a double, was missing just a tiny bit for the lead. His deflected shot did not bounce off the lower edge of the crossbar into the goal and thus continued the aluminum bad luck of the German selection in the tournament. Nmecha (21st) and Arne Maier (29th) failed because of Portugal’s strong parrying keeper Diogo Costa.
Overall, Germany pushed more for the lead before the break, but Portugal remained dangerous. Significant for the team spirit of the DFB-Elf was a great opportunity for the Iberians, which could barely be thwarted with united forces and a lot of effort (45th + 1).
Ridle Baku kept the overview
The DFB interim presidents Rainer Koch and Peter Peters were able to cheer quickly about the lead after the break. The team’s only senior international, Ridle Baku, kept calm and a good overview of his pass to Nmecha. And the goal machine in the German game turned ice cold into the twelfth goal in the 20th U21 game.
In the closing stages, goalkeeper Finn Dahmen was repeatedly challenged. His front men lacked precision in counterattacks. Karim Adeyemi missed the 2-0 (72nd / 81st). Portugal, which had recently won against Germany five times in a row, pressed for an equalizer in vain.