The Germany U21 National Team won 3-1 against Latvia to secure their second victory in European Championship qualification. Head coach Stefan Kuntz’s side went behind early on in Riga but turned it around to claim a deserved away win. Following the match, Stefan Kuntz discussed his thoughts on the game and gave a brief assessment on the last few days with the new squad.
Stefan Kuntz on...
… the game against Latvia: We struggled with our distribution on the pitch in the early stages of the game, but this improved after we switched to a back three. We mustn’t forget that these lads are playing together for the first time, and this means it will take time for the team to gel. For example, Tom Krauß and Shinta Appelkamp often took up the same space as each other in the first half, but then we moved Shinta into the middle and it was much better. It’s been a great lesson for future matches.
… the first two games overall: We played against two different opponents. San Marino set up very defensively, whereas the Latvians today were very physical. I was happy to see the team’s positive attitude and strong mentality after going behind. We found an equaliser relatively quickly and were hungry for the second goal to take the lead.
… his impressions of the new squad: We made getting to know the guys a priority for these first ten days with the new year group, and now we can push on. You have to take into consideration just how much gametime these lads are getting at their respective clubs. Thankfully the boys are not quiet and approached the coaching staff themselves to have a chat, and we found that really positive.
... comparing this year’s U21s to last year’s: I am staying cautiously optimistic, but I wouldn’t jump on any bandwagons just yet. The strong performances of the last squad during the European Championship were a credit to their development over the season but also due to their increased amount of game time as the year went on. For many of the players in this squad, it is their first time working with us, so we are still unsure as to in what position everyone feels most comfortable playing. The most optimal outcome is that our players develop and grow to be stronger than our eventual opponents.
... Youssoufa Moukoko’s performance: I don’t want to single any individual player out, but we don’t even need to discuss Youssoufa’s quality, as it’s clear to see that he is capable of scoring decisive goals. It’s a win-win situation for the DFB and for Borussia Dortmund that he can get some match practice playing for us.
... the first-team debutants: We were absolutely thrilled. It was a great motivator for the lads in this squad to see Karim [Adeyemi], Ridle [Baku], David [Raum], Flo [Wirtz] and Nico [Schlotterbeck] with the first team. They’ve realised that the first team coaches keep an eye on the U21s and reward good performances with call-ups. We are so proud of them!