Germany U21s beat Wales 2-1 on Tuesday night and thus qualified for the EUROs. Germany head coach Stefan Kuntz and U21s player Niklas Dorsch spoke to the media after the game.
Stefan Kuntz on…
…the last few months with the U21s: We’re pleased that we’ve managed to top the group and qualify for the EUROs, and without needing help from anyone else too. We’re really happy and proud of that. We’ve used ten new players since September, and a team can’t really develop in those circumstances – you can’t get that natural understanding with your teammates. That’s why not everything has gone so smoothly. Both we as coaches and the boys have learned a lot from these games. The situation with the coronavirus has been new for us in the last few months, and I’m extremely glad that the hygiene measures we’ve introduced have worked. The German Football Association (DFB) was one of few whose first team and U21s side didn’t have a coronavirus case in the last international break. Every training session, team meeting and individual chat with players in the last few months has been dependent on test results. But that’s just a side note to the football. We know that we’re lucky that we can still do our job and that a lot of people have it worse.
…the U21 EUROs: I’m pleased that my players will have the opportunity to play in such a tournament and perform on the big stage. They’ve earned that. This EUROs will be different to that that we’re used to, but I’m hoping that coronavirus won’t be playing such a dominant role like it is at the moment so we might get some fans in the stadiums.
…the challenge of doing the EUROs group stage without a training camp: Usually we’d have about a ten-day training camp before the tournament. That’s where we’ve developed a great team spirit in recent times, got to know each other better as a side and worked on different tactics. Now that we’ve qualified, I’m sure we’ll have a few ideas of how we can deal with this unusual situation. We’ve asked the German Football League (DFL), for example, whether our players’ clubs can not play on the Sunday or Monday of the matchday before the EUROs. Aside from that, it’s important that we can keep the same group of players together so at least they know each other’s game a little and there’s chemistry on the pitch. Players like Ridle Baku, Niklas Dorsch, Salih Özcan, Arne Maier, Lukas Nmecha, Mergim Berisha are part of this group, as well as Nico Schlotterbeck and Dennis Geiger when they’re fit.
…managing workloads ahead of the tournament: That will definitely be a challenge. We have players like Niklas Dorsch and Mergim Berisha who, because their sides play in Europe, will have two or three times the normal workload. And there are boys too who don’t play much for their club sides. That’s why it won’t be easy getting all the players at the same level for the first group game.
…preferred opponents in the EUROs: Ultimately, I want to face the best sides, as that lets the boys go up against the other top talents of their age in Europe. They can draw a lot from that.
…the goalkeeping position: None of our goalkeepers in the U21s play regularly with their clubs. If that changes in the next three or four months, then that will change our approach to the position too. Finn Dahmen playing against Wales wasn’t a decision against Lennart Grill. Finn had the momentum after his strong showing in the second half against Slovenia, so he had earned it. Markus Schubert has moved clubs, so we wanted to give him the chance to get used to it there. That’s why he wasn’t involved.
Niklas Dorsch on…
…qualifying for the EUROs: The mood in the dressing room was really good; we’re all pleased with qualifying and finishing top of the group. 2-1 sounds like it was close, but you could see that we dominated the game. We deserved to go 2-0 up and then we missed the chance to finish it off with a third. We’re then unlucky to concede through a long ball. And like you saw in the other results in our group, anything can happen. We knew that Wales can be dangerous, but even then we didn’t give much away in the second half. Really, we should’ve used our chances better, then we could’ve won the game by a bigger margin.
…time until the EUROs: It’s important for us to get as much game time as we can at our clubs before the EUROs. That way, we can get into good rhythm and join up with the U21s feeling good. That’s key in my opinion.
…the large number of players: The workload I’ve had at my club recently, with qualifiers for the Champions League, the Europa League and the league, was extraordinary and really taxing on my body. Despite that, we’ve managed that really well here with the U21s. I didn’t play for long against Slovenia so that I could be fit for the 90 minutes against Wales. It was perfect workload management.