Exactly two years ago today, Germany U21s defeated Spain 1-0 in Kraków to become European champions. The two teams will meet again tonight in Udine in the 2019 U21 European Championship final (20:45 CEST). Stefan Kuntz’s side are just one victory away from becoming just the fifth side to successfully defend the U21 European Championship. Here is everything you need to know ahead of tonight’s final.
Record between the two sides: Germany and Spain have met on twelve previous occasions and the Iberians have enjoyed more success, winning six of those matches. Germany have recorded four victories while the other two matches ended in draws. Germany U21s have lost a joint record number matches against Spain, losing the same number of matches against England and Portugal. Germany are also facing Spain for the fifth time at a U21 European Championship and they have only faced England on more occasions at this tournament. The last competitive meeting between the two side was the 2017 final as Stefan Kuntz’s side lifted the trophy in Kraków.
16 match unbeaten run: Germany U21s are currently on a 16 match unbeaten run, winning 13 of those matches. Stefan Kuntz’s last defeat came in Norway in October 2017 as his side fell to a 3-1 defeat. This is the joint longest unbeaten run in the team’s history, equaling the 16 match unbeaten run achieved by Berti Vogt’s side between October 1982 and April 1984 (seven wins, nine draws).
Goals guaranteed: Germany U21s have scored at least once in each of their last twelve matches, a run which stretches back to March 2018. Stefan Kuntz’s side last failed to score in goalless draw with Kosovo. Struggle for goals against Spain: In five of their twelve previous meetings, Germany U21s have failed to score against Spain. The team have only failed to find the back of the net on more occasions against France (six out of their twelve meetings).
Déjà-vu: Nadiem Amiri and Levin Öztunali, who both came off the bench in the final two years ago, are in contention to start tonight in Udine. Mahmoud Dahoud, Waldemar Anton and four other members of the 2017 title winning team could also feature tonight as Germany look to defend their crown. Anton, who captained the side two years ago in absence of the injured Jonathan Tah, didn’t feature in the final in Kraków. Dani Ceballos, who was awarded player of the tournament in 2017, will look for revenge in this year’s final alongside teammates Jorge Mere, Jesus Vallejo, Borja Mayoral, Mikel Merino, Mikel Oyarzabal and Carlos Soler. All of them were on the losing side in that 1-0 defeat in 2017.
Previous final appearances: Germany have reached their second consecutive U21 European Championship final and fourth overall. Germany won the tournament in 2009 and in their last final appearance in 2017 but fell to a two-leg defeat to England in their debut final appearance in 1982. Before Germany defeated Romania to reach this year’s showpiece event, Spain were the last side to reach two consecutive U21 European Championship finals in 2011 and 2013 respectively. On both occasions, the Iberians emerged victorious. The only other teams to win the tournament twice consequently are the Netherlands (2006 & 2007), Italy (1992, 1994 & 1996) and England (1982 & 1984).
Record goalscorer: After a scoring a brace in the semi-final against Romania, Luca Waldschmidt took his total for the tournament up to seven and the number of shots at goal up to eleven, the highest ever tally since tournament records began in 2007. Only Marcus Berg has scored as many goals at a single tournament, also scoring on seven occasions in the 2009 tournament. Waldschmidt’s late curling strike saw him overtake Pierre Littbarski (6) as Germany’s record goalscorer at a single U21 European Championship. The SC Freiburg striker also became the first German player to score in four consecutive U21 European Championship matches.
Consistency at major tournaments: Spain have reached four of the last five U21 European Championship finals. The Iberians didn’t qualify for the 2015 tournament so have reached the final in each of the last four tournaments they have participated in. After winning the 2011 and 2013 titles, Spain failed to make it a hat-trick of triumphs against Germany two years ago. Overall, Spain have reached their eighth final, overtaking Italy’s previous record of seven final appearances. Spain can also equal Italy’s record of five tournament triumphs with a victory tonight in Udine.
Tonight’s opponents: Spain qualified for the tournament as clear winners of Group 2 with 27 points ahead of runner-up Northern Ireland (20 points). Spain’s only defeat in qualifying came at home against Northern Ireland in September (1-2). Gerard Deulofeu is currently the team’s record appearance holder and record goalscorer, scoring 17 goals in 36 appearances.
Head coach: Luis de la Fuente is Spain U21’s head coach and the former Basque full-back made over 300 appearances in his playing career for Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla and Alaves respectively. De la Fuente won La Liga with Bilbao in 1983 and 1984 and won the Copa del Rey in the same year. De la Fuente was head coach of Spain’s U19s side that won the European Championship in 2015.
Spain’s squad: Jorge Mere has the most experience in the Spain U21s team as he looks for his 32nd cap tonight while Borja Mayoral is the team’s top goalscorer with 16 goals. Mere (1. FC Köln) and Aaron Martin (1. FSV Mainz 05) are just two of the Spain players currently playing abroad. Tonight’s final will feel similar to a home for Fabian Ruiz (Napoli) and Pol Lirola (Sassuolo), who are both currently playing in Serie A. Meanwhile, 17 members of the squad are currently playing in Spain.
Final venue: The 25,144 capacity Stadio Friuli in Udine will host tonight’s final. Germany U21s have already played two group games in Udine, defeating Denmark 3-1 and drawing 1-1 with Austria. Udine is home to around 100,000 citizens and is the second largest city in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region behind Venice.