The Germany U21 national team won their 200th game and remained unbeaten in 2018. The Germany U21s beat record European Champions Italy 2-1 and have now gone eight games without defeat, scoring 22 and conceding only two in the process, and only dropping points against Kosovo in a 0-0 draw.
Vittorio Parigini opened the scoring for the Italians in the 21st minute, but Germany hit back with two goals from Luca Waldschmidt just before and just after halftime. It was Germany’s first victory over the Italians in nine years. “It is good that we are performing well away from home. It shows that we have good team spirit,” said Waldschmidt.
“Having read this year’s statistics, and having used every player we have in the last two games, we can say that we have had an extraordinary year,” said Kuntz after the game. “The first half was not great for us. At half-time, we talked about how our game strategy was the right one and that we had to concentrate more and play more consistently. The boys did not want to make any changes, and wanted to prove to themselves that they could be better after half-time. In the second half, we were much better and therefore, we deserved to win.”
Germany started the game well as Marco Richter tested Italy’s keeper Emil Audero early on. However, after the tenth minute, Italy grew into the game and Parigini opened the scoring in the 21st minute, leaving Germany’s keeper Alexander Nübel with no chance.
However, the young squad reacted well to goin down, and from the 30th minute onwards, started to play better football. After some superb interplay, Florian Neuhaus had an effort saved by the Italian goalkeeper. Shortly after, Janni Serra and Maximilian Eggestein came close. Despite being on the front foot, Germany still had to be cautious in defence, with Nübel saving a one-on-one against Orsolini well to keep the visitors in the game.
Shortly before the whistle blew for half-time, Patrick Cutrone blocked a Waldschmidt free-kick with his hand and Germany were awarded a penalty, which Waldschmidt converted confidently.
In the second half, Waldschmidt scored again, weaving his way down the right wing past several players to cut inside and shoot from 13 metres out into the opposite corner. From then on, Germany were very stable at the back, but Italy still threatened. At the other end, Eggestein had an effort saved, as the Italian keeper kept it at 2-1.
Shortly before the final whistle, Cutrone had a big opportunity to equalise, but Nübel made a superb save to deny the Italian striker’s free-kick, and ensure his team won seven out of their eight games this year. The next game for Kuntz and his team will be a tough test against England in March 2019.