Germany became European U-21 Champions after a 1-0 result over Spain. Mitchell Weiser’s header late in the first half was enough to gift the title to the Germans after a strong and resilient performance.
Germany (4-1-4-1): Pollersbeck; Toljan, Stark, Kempf, Gerhardt; Haberer; Weiser, Meyer, Arnold, Gnabry; Philipp
Spain (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; Bellerín, Meré, Vallejo, Jonny; Saúl Ñíguez, Llorente, Ceballos; Asensio, Ramírez, Deulofeu
Germany had a very strong start to the match, pressuring endlessly to win the ball in an attempt to disrupt Spain’s quick movement of the ball. It worked, as Germany had a majority of the possession by the end of the first half and were creating the better chances of the two sides.
Germany’s efforts paid off when a cross by Toljan found Weiser in the penalty area. He reacted quickly to send a looping header into the far post, giving Germany the lead going into halftime. The Spanish goalkeeper was left rooted to his spot, forced to watch the ball sail into the top corner of the goal.
The second half saw an onslaught from the Spaniards, as they stepped up their possession and urgency to create chances. Meanwhile, Germany seemed content to sit deeper and defend their lead, blasting away any ball that found its way into their penalty area.
Despite some good chances from Saúl, Asensio, and substitute Iñaki Williams, Spain were unable to break down Germany’s stubborn defense.
• Germany’s win was only the second time they won the U-21 European Championship. Spain have won it four times before.
• In their last six competitive U-21 meetings before this match, Spain had won four times, while the Germans only won once.
• Out of the last seven tournaments, this was only the third time Germany made it out of the group stages.
Ceballos Dazzles, But Can’t Deliver
Dani Ceballos had an excellent opportunity to level the score in the 72nd minute. The electrifying Spanish midfielder was one of the players of the tournament with his delightful dribbling and footwork, and he brought the same skill to this match.
Ceballos picked up the ball close to the halfway line, then sprinted forward, skipping past three German defenders.
He dashed towards the top of the penalty area and released a thundering strike that went just wide of the post. That moment signified Spain’s frustrations in the second half, and was also their best chance to get something out of the match.
Spain walked into this match with the best backline of the tournament, giving Germany the daunting task of having to break them down. With experienced fullbacks in Bellerín and Jonny and pacey center backs, Spain had been excellent at cutting out dangerous passes and defending the wide areas of the pitch.
In the midfield, Llorente shielded the backline exceptionally while Spain had five players comfortable with attacking and scoring goals. Their skilled dribbling and quick passes were capable of breaking down almost any defense in the tournament.
Germany, on the other hand, were very aggressive while defending, which they were able to do all over the pitch. The midfield was run by the experienced Arnold, who was excellent at dictating play while players like Gnabry brought directness to attacks and energy to defense.
In this match, Germany’s frantic start to the match threw Spain’s game plan out of the window, making them uncomfortable and unable to move the ball effectively. Germany pressed from every direction, allowing them to win the ball quickly and repeatedly form attacks.
Even with all of their possession and control in the first half, Germany were still unable to create many solid chances against Spain’s resilient backline. But they were clinical, which ultimately won them the match. Scoring their header right before halftime capped off a dominant first-half performance.
Germany managed to rely on their fierce defense for the rest of the match, even when Spain had more possession. Germany’s coolness under pressure took them a long way, especially compared to Spain. The Spaniards looked desperate, frustrated, and completely out of ideas, meaning they could do nothing even when they saw more of the ball.
Ultimately, Germany played with a ruthless efficiency that gave them a deserved win over a strong, attacking Spanish side.