Germany faced Spain in the final of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. Stefan Kuntz’ team were looking to win the tournament for the first time since 2009 and Albert Celades’ side were attempting to win their third tournament since 2011.
Germany Win European Under-21 Championship Final
Germany 1 – 0 Spain
This final saw two European giants face off in Krakow. Spain played an unchanged team and Germany were without striker Davie Selke. A competitive game early on, both teams traded chances. The game looked as if it was heading for a goalless first-half, but in the 40th minute, Germany took the lead. Mitchell Weiser scored an unusual goal, flicking the ball towards goal with a smart header. The header left ‘keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga flat-footed and the Germans took a valuable lead.
Spain began the second-half in stagnant fashion. Lacking ideas, it took them until the final 20 minutes to make an offensive push. Despite laying siege to the German goal, they could not test Julian Pollersbeck. They only managed to force a routine save and a few defensive clearances and were disappointing going forward all game. A team this good should have more than one shot on target in a major final. Time was up for a desperate Spanish team, with Kuntz and his Germany team winning their second European Under-21 Championship.
Man of the Match: Mitchell Weiser
What went wrong for Spain?
Entering as favourites to win the tournament, Spain will be devastated with their efforts on Friday night. Despite having more possession and out-passing Germany, they managed just one shot on target all game.
The Germans were without their best striker and went in as underdogs, but they started aggressively and didn’t stop. Playing with a nothing-to-lose attitude, they caught Spain by surprise.
The Spanish failed to recover. The goal may have been an unusual one, but they still had over 50 minutes to equalise. This shouldn’t be a challenge for a team so talented, but their pass-first style held them back. Having an identity is always good, but in this final, it cost Spain their fifth European Under-21 Championship final win.
Saúl Ñíguez and Dani Ceballos both collect awards
One minor positive for the Spanish was star midfielders Saúl Ñíguez and Dani Ceballos collecting two awards. Saúl picked up the Golden Boot award, while Ceballos collected the Player of the Tournament award. Scoring a superb five goals from midfield, the Atlético Madrid player had a very strong tournament. These awards will leave a bad taste, with both players starting and losing in the final.