The Germany U21s were unable to defend their European crown, losing 2-1 to now joint-record five-time winners Spain in the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship final. A very early goal put Luis de la Fuente’s side in front, before an unfortunate second meant that Nadiem Amiri’s 88th-minute strike was too little, too late to stage a comeback.
There were two changes to the side that started the semi-final victory over Romania, with Benjamin Henrichs returning from suspension to replace Maximilian Mittelstädt at left-back and Suat Serdar preferred to Florian Neuhaus in the middle.
Spain began at a blistering pace in front of over 23,000 fans in Udine’s Stadio Fruili. Germany were pinned back almost inside their own penalty area and struggled to work their way through the swarm of red shirts. An early opener felt inevitable and was delivered by Fabian Ruiz inside eight minutes. The Napoli midfielder was allowed to drive at the defence before curling in a left-footed shot past a fully-stretched Alex Nübel to make it 1-0.
Stefan Kuntz’s men steadily began to work themselves out of the Spanish press and get a foothold in the game. Quick counterattacking was the most prominent way forward for the 2017 champions and one breakaway arguably should have resulted in a red card for La Rojita captain Jesus Vallejo when he caught Luca Waldschmidt with studs raised, but the referee only gave a yellow and VAR decided no intervention was necessary. The first half ended with a string of corner kicks for Germany and Levin Ötzunali had their best chance after one dropped to him, only for his effort to be turned behind with a last-ditch deflection.
The DFB-Team maintained the initiative after the change of ends and tournament top scorer Waldschmidt finally had a bit more space to try his luck, but his low strike on his stronger left foot slipped wide of the post, before a second effort was straight at goalkeeper Antonio Sivera. Just as Germany were closing in on an equaliser though, Spain delivered a sucker punch at the other end. Nübel failed to hold on to a Ruiz shot and Dani Olmo followed up to add a dinked finish over the Schalke goalkeeper to the rebound with just 20 minutes to play.
Some tempo was initially missing from Kuntz’s side with the task seeming too great to master and Spain could have made it three, only for Carols Soler’s shot to rattle back off the crossbar. Waldschmidt then had a great chance to reignite Germany’s hopes when substitute Lukas Nmecha’s drag-back in the box found him, but the usually so reliable Freiburg forward failed to direct his side-foot on target. There was a late glimmer of hope though. Nadiem Amiri’s pot shot took a nick off Vallejo’s head to dip the ball underneath the crossbar and make it 2-1, but Germany couldn’t create another chance in the final few minutes to force extra time.