In their opening match of 2019, Germany U21s enjoyed a successful first half before France U21s battled back from a two goal deficit to secure a 2-2 draw in Essen.
Head coach Stefan Kuntz chose to play a back three in defence while operating three strikers in the opening stages of the match. This caught the French opposition completely by surprise as the hosts took an early lead in the third minute. Luca Waldschmidt won the ball in central midfield before playing in Levin Öztunali who left goalkeeper Paul Bernadoni with no chance as Germany made the perfect start.
The strong attacking start to the match for the hosts as Nadiem Amiri linked up well with Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud. However, Dahoud was denied by the outstreched arm of Bernadoni, who was able to turn the shot round the post (9’), From the resulting corner, Bernadoni denied an Amiri shot from long range and Florian Neuhaus was unable to take his clear chance to double Germany’s lead.
In the 16th minute, the hosts were denied by an inspired Bernadoni as he was able to deny Waldschmidt from close range after the Freiburg striker had linked up well with Dahoud. Moment later, Öztunali fired a low shot wide of the far post (18’). Maximilan Mittelstädt then tested the Nimes goalkeeper with a diagonal shot which didn’t cause too many problems for the France defence (20’).
After the shock start to the match, France found their rhythm after around 20 minutes and went in search of an equaliser. Moussa Dembélé fired a header over the bar (26’) before Houssem Aouar fired a shot into the side netting of Florian Müller’s goal (27’). Moments later, Martin Terrier’s shot went over the bar (27’). Debutant Müller also made a fine save to deny Terrier on France’s next attack (27’).
The match developed into an even, end-to-end contest as both teams continued to press and find the next goal. However, it was Germany who made the next breakthrough as Öztunali played in Benjamin Henrichs down the right wing and his cross was met at the far post by Maxi Mittelstädt to double the hosts’ lead (31’). It was very nearly 3-0 on the stroke of half-time as Waldschmidt got on the end of Mittelstädt’s cross (42’). Müller was called into action once more in the final chance of the half as Terrior’s close range shot fell kindly for the Mainz goalkeeper.
In the second half, Kuntz changed formation defensively into a back five and it was the French visitors who made the stronger start to proceedings. Jonathan Bamba had a chance to score in the very first minute of the second half before Jonathan Ikone got France on the scoresheet, taking Müller by surprise with a curling free-kick from the byline (51’). Germany looked to restore their two goal advantage but failed to win their challenges against the aggressive French pressing game. The hosts also failed to find the crucial final pass needed to make the next breakthrough. Kuntz made eight changes in the 62nd minute and France made the most of the break in play to draw level four minutes latwr. Pascal Stenzel lost the ball and Dembélé was on hand to stroke the ball home (66’).
The match became an open affair after the equaliser as both teams searched for what could’ve been the decisive goal in the match. Bernadoni was on hand to keep France in the match once more as he denied substitue Lukas Klünter (69’) before Müller was forced into action at the other end to deny Bamba (71’). Dahoud failed to take his chance with a shot that was blocked (81’) and Alain Saint-Maximin was denied in the dying seconds by the resolute German defence (89’). The match ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw.