The Germany U21s enjoyed a successful start to the new era of players under Stefan Kuntz’s management. The kids of ’98 (and younger) beat Greece 2-0 in the first friendly of the season, giving them confidence ahead of the first European qualifier on Tuesday against Wales.
In his fifth international appearance, Lukas Nmecha scored the first of Germany’s two goals 25 minutes into the game. After Alexandros Katranis’ dismissal for a last-man foul, the DFB youngsters played the rest of the game with a one-man advantage. Niklas Dorsch made it 2-0 just shy of the hour mark.
"It wasn’t particularly good for us that we had to play against ten men. It changes the characteristics of a game entirely, but we did well in a lot of places it has to be said," summarised Kuntz, who spoke of a "selection headache" with regard to the Wales game on Tuesday.
Kuntz named eight U21 newcomers in his starting eleven for the friendly against Greece. Only Johannes Eggestein, Nmecha and goalkeeper Markus Schubert remained from the European Championship this summer. The latter was called into action straight away, but comfortably saved Tasos Douvikas’ effort. End-to-end football ensued, as the Germany players tried to settle into their new surroundings.
Gradually, Kuntz’s men began to enjoy the better of the chances, with Eggestein’s long-range effort testing the goalkeeper, but Greece were not shying away: 21 minutes into the game, Maxime Awoudja came to his centre-back partner’s rescue with a last-ditch clearance.
Shortly after, Germany were rewarded for their minimal dominance. Following some top-class link-up play between Ridle Baku and Felix Agu, the Osnabrück man darted his way into a crossing position on the right wing and provided the perfect delivery for Nmecha in the middle, who fumbled the ball over the line with his hip.
The Germany continued to set the pace and created multiple goalscoring opportunities. With half time beckoning, Greece suffered a major setback after Nmecha, through on goal, was brought down. Consequentially, the visitors sat further and further back for the remainder of the game.
After the break, Kuntz fielded a completely new side, with Dennis Geiger taking the captain’s armband from Jojo Eggestein. The new eleven dominated every aspect of the game and soon rewarded themselves through Niklas Dorsch (59’). Moments later, it could have been three, but Robin Hack was denied by the post after being set up by Geiger.
Man of the second half was indeed Hoffenheim’s Dennis Geiger, who was proactive and creative going forwards, setting up two excellent chances for the team to go 3-0 up. In the end, a little bit of luck in front of goal was lacking for the Germany U21s – the game ended ‘just’ 2-0.