Germany’s U21s have achieved their minimum aim at the European Championship—now they will seek to bring it full circle. After advancing to the semifinals, the team qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Now, they will face Romania on Thursday (18:00 CEST) on the path to the final of the European Championship in Italy and San Marino. DFB.de has all the facts ahead of the match in Bologna.
Head-to-head: Germany’s U21s are still undefeated against Romania—in seven matches the team has won four and drawn three times, with a goal difference of 23-6. In official matches, Germany’s record is even better: in four matches against Romania (including their last three meetings as part of Euro qualification), the team has won three and drawn one. Their sole meeting at a European Championship ended in Germany’s favour. At Euro 1998 in Romania, head coach Hannes Löhr’s side won 1-0 after a golden goal from Danny Schwarz in the 101st minute. The teams last met during qualification for the 2015 Euros. Back then the two sides drew 2-2 in Giurgiu before Germany picked up a clear 8-0 win in Magdeburg.
Goal fest: Germany have recorded a higher margin of victory than the 8-0 in Magdeburg just once: on 17th November 2009 the German youngsters won 11-0 against San Marino. The 8-0 win remains Germany’s highest ever victory against Romania, while also being the highest margin that Romania’s U21s have lost by to date.
Goal scorers: Across their last three matches, Germany have scored at least twice per match, scoring 15 and averaging five goals per match. Germany have only failed to score against Romania once, during a 0-0 draw in Bucharest on 1st September 1998.
A look back: A 1-1 draw with Austria in their final group stage match at the Euros was enough for Germany to finish at the top of Group B with seven points (after a 3-1 win against Denmark and a 6-1 win against Serbia). The team advanced to the semifinals while also qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. This is their third consecutive semifinal (after also advancing in 2015 and 2017), and their fifth overall (1982 and 2009).
Semifinal record: Germany advanced into the final in three of their four previous semifinal appearances, only missing out in 2015. Germany were European Champions in both 2009 and 2017, having lost in the final in 1982. Four years ago Germany lost 5-0 against Portugal in the semifinals, their heaviest defeat to date. Two years ago Germany beat England on penalties in the semifinal and advanced to the final where they beat Spain 1-0 in order to secure their second European title.
A strong group stage. This year marked Germany’s best-ever showing in the group stage at the U21 Euros, since the debut of the group stage round at the tournament in 2000. Previously, Germany's best-ever points total after the group stage was six at the 2017 Euros.
Impressing so far at the tournament: Luca Waldschmidt gave Stefan Kuntz’s side the lead against Austria with an impressive strike from long range. This put Germany U21s on course for the semi-finals and gave Waldschmidt his fifth goal of the tournament. The SC Freiburg striker is currently the top scorer in Italy and San Marino and is the first German player to score in three consecutive matches at a U21 European Championship. Waldschmidt has also scored the second highest number of goals at a U21 European Championship in Germany history, overtaking Rudi Völler’s tally of four at the 1982 tournament. Only Pierre Littbarski has scored more goals at a single tournament than Waldschmidt (6). He has also scored more goals for Kuntz’s side than any other player in the current squad (8), overtaking Levin Öztunali (7).
Notable predecessors: Isco and Alvaro Morata were the last two players to score in three consecutive U21 European Championship matches as Spain went on to win the tournament in 2013.
Keeping pace with Waldschmidt: Marco Richter also impressed during the group stage, scoring three goals and providing two assists.
Unbeaten run: Germany U21s are currently on a 15 match unbeaten run, winning twelve of those matches. Stefan Kuntz’s side last suffered a defeat in October 2013, a 3-1 away defeat in Norway. A semi-final victory against Romania would equal Germany U21s longest ever unbeaten run of 16 matches achieved under Berti Vogts between October 1982 and April 1984.
U21 European Championship run: Germany U21s are currently unbeaten in five tournament matches, winning three matches extending back to the 2017 title-winning tournament. This equals the five match unbeaten run achieved in 2009 where Germany won the tournament.
Suspended: After picking up his second yellow card of the tournament in the 1-1 draw against Austria, Benjamin Henrichs will be suspended for Thursday’s semi-final.
Always on the ball: Only Spaniard Dani Ceballos (262) has played more passes so far in the tournament than Timo Baumgartl (253) and Jonathan Tah (252).
Head coach record: Stefan Kuntz has led Germany U21s to a ninth U21 European Championship semi-final, equaling Horst Hrubesch’s record.
Landmark match: Germany U21s will play in their 200th competitive match on Thursday and their 41st at a European Championship.
Surprise package: Romania surprised all the experts as they reached the first semi-final in their history, not least advancing ahead of group rivals England and Croatia. The Croatians were swept aside 4-1, before England were defeated 4-2 in another highly-exciting clash. In the final group game, Mirel Radoi’s men drew 0-0 against France, which secured qualification for each side. Italy were the unfortunate side who missed out on qualification despite finishing on six points.
Danger, goals: In the group stage, Romania (tied with Spain) scored eight goals, which is only beaten by Germany’s ten. These eight goals came from only 39 shots, which is a conversion rate of 24% (same as Germany). Only Poland have a better rate with 31%. Only Denmark had a higher amount of clear-cut chances than Romania (eight, tied with Austria), of which 63% were converted. Only Poland (67%) and Belgium (75%) have a higher conversion percentage. Germany’s rate is 57%.
Dangerous towards the end: Romania have scored the most second-half goals out of all teams in the tournament (six out of eight). Five of these have come in the final 15 minutes of the game, which is three more than any other side.
Passing game: Head coach Radoi is a fan of a direct style, with few quick passes. On average, Romania make 312 passes per game, which is the lowest of all teams. By comparison, Germany make an average of 573 per game. 79.2% of Romania passes are completed (Germany: 88%), which is the second lowest average behind Poland (78.7%).
No possession football: As a result, Radoi’s men statistically get by with lower possession numbers. In the group stages, Romania averaged a possession of just 39% (Germany: 57%) which is higher only than Poland (35%).
No one-on-ones, please: To date, nobody has a lower duels won percentage than the “Tricolorii buni”. Romania have won 44% of their duels, whereas Germany rank third with 53%. This weakness leads to a tough game – Romania have conceded 50 fouls in the tournament so far, which is at least six more than any other team (Germany: 30). Romania themselves have been fouled the least number of times in the tournament (25), whereas Germany have been fouled 34 times.
Strong in attack: Romania have their three attackers and top-scorers George Puscas, Florinel Coman and Ianis Hagi to thank, who each have two goals to their name and contribute six of the team’s eight goals. Whilst the strong centre-forward Puscas and pacy winger Coman have no relation to their namesakes, Ianis Hagi is actually the son of Romania legend Gheoghe Hagi, who is currently the coach and president of his son’s current club, Viitorul Constanta, on the Black Sea.
A second time: Only once before has a Romanian U21 team qualified for the European Championship. In 1998, Romania hosted the competition and were therefore automatically eligible to play in the quarter-finals (there was not yet a group stage at the time). In 2019, Romania qualified for a major sporting event for the first time and, thanks to the semi-finals, will be able to compete as professionals in the Olympics next year, a feat never achieved before in their history. These are, to date, the biggest successes in the history of the Romanian junior team.
The road to Italy and San Marino: Romania were unbeaten in 10 during qualifying, having recorded seven wins and three draws (24 points), finishing as winners of qualifying group 8, ahead of Portugal (22). Having only conceded four goals in those 10 games, Romania, together with England, had the best defensive record during qualifyiers.
Romania coach: Former Romania international, Mirel Radoi, has been coach of the Romanian U21s since March 2018. He had previously coached FCSB and FC Arges. As a player, he spent the first part of his career as a defender in his home country, predominantly with record champions, Steaua Bukarest. From 2009 until 2015, he then spent time in the Arabian Peninsula with various clubs. With Steaua, Radoi became Roman champions three times (2001, 2005 and 2006) and also won the national Supercup twice (2001, 2006). He also added several other championships and cups during his time in the United Arab Emirate and Saudi Arabia. Radoi played for his national team 67 times, where he managed two goals. In 2008, he participated in the European Championship in Austria and Switzerland, but had his tournament cut short after a bad collision with teammate Razvan Rat during the second group stage match.
Home-grown: 16 of the 23 players in the Romania squad play in Romania, most of them (five) belong to the club run by the greatest Romanian footballer of all time, Gheorghe Hagi, who is the coach, president and owner of Viitorul Constanta. Five other players also played there in their youth or made their first step as professionals there. Among the 23 players is Ianis Hagi, the son of the aforementioned Romanian legend, who also plays and trains under his father at FC Viitorul. FCSB has the second most players at the tournament (with four) then comes Sepsi Sfantu Gheoghe (with two). The other 12 players are from 12 different clubs.
Puscas: The record for most games and most goals goes to George Puscas, who scored 16 goals in 24 appearances for the national U21 side. He has also netted twice during this current European Championship. Puscas, like Dragomir from AC Perugia and Andrei Radu from CFC Genoa, has a home game this tournament, as he plays for US Palermo in Serie B. Puscas already has eight caps (and four goals) for the senior national team. Eight other players in the U21 side also have caps for the senior side.
The stadium: The first semi-final of this year’s European Championship will take place in Stadio Renato Dall’Ara in Bologna. With a capacity of 31,000, it is the biggest stadium at the tournament. The arena was built from 1925 to 1927 and was used as a venue for the 1934 and 1990 World Cups. The pitch is surrounded by an athletics track and holds a stadium tower as part of the background scenery.
The city: Bologna is popularly called “la grassa” (“the fats”) because of all the rich food. Many pasta varieties were ‘invented’ here, however among them is not the infamous spaghetti Bolognese.