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terça-feira, março 5, 2024

Aus der deutschen U21: Ohne Mut und ohne Herz

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German U21 footballers could have won their Olympic ticket to the European Championships next Saturday evening. In the quarter-finals in Tbilisi, it would have been against hosts Georgia, who surprisingly finished first in their group – a solvable task. However, this plan has a crucial hitch: Germany’s oldest national youth team failed to qualify for the quarter-finals. She returned home on Thursday.

To advance to the quarter-finals of the European Championship, several things should have worked, but not all of them worked. The German side should have converted one of the two penalties in the opener against Israel (1-1) or used their 80% ball possession and manpower to score a winner. In the second game against the Czech Republic, they should have aimed their 28 shots on goal better, used their 70% possession more effectively or at least avoided a half-goal on their own to make it 2-1 three minutes before the end. Or they should have shown at least a bit of will to win and come out on top in the last group game against an English team who had already qualified and changed eight positions (0:2). Because then that would still have been enough for the quarter-finals on Wednesday evening – and for the great opportunity to reach the semi-finals against Georgia and thus also the Olympic tournament in 2024.

The U21s missed all those chances. The successors to the German 2021 European champions finished last with just one point in a group that certainly wasn’t too difficult. They scored just two goals in four and a half hours, despite having the most shots on target of 16 teams in the group stage – 60. Georgia – just for reference – as the winners of Group A only have 25 shots in three games. – and now meets Israel instead of Germany in the quarter-finals. Joti Chatzialexiou, the sporting director of the national teams of the German Football Association, was not talking about Georgia and Israel when he said with disappointment on Wednesday evening: “Other nations are ahead of us.” He looked more at Sovereign Tournament favourites, England, France and Spain.

Germany’s U21s were knocked out of the group stage for the first time in ten years – and for the first time without a single win. The whole misadventure started when Youssoufa Moukoko missed a penalty in the 3rd minute of the opening match and the Israelis took the lead a bit later. The Germans never led in their three group games, never had a good feeling, never developed a flow. Everything was going against her. What the coaches and officials of the association will not forgive them so easily is that they no longer developed any passion against England, when they still had real chances of progress. After 20 minutes they were already 0:2 behind, after which they kicked wearily, as if they were already on vacation on the beach. Chatzialexiou called Germany’s appearance at the European Championship a ‘super meltdown’. A German team could hardly have presented themselves worse at international level.

Under Stefan Kuntz, the U21s have reached the European Championship final three times

The overall result does not reflect well on promising players like Yann Aurel Bisseck, Josha Vagnoman, Yannik Keitel, Angelo Stiller or Kevin Schade. You could not recommend you for the senior national team, which is currently looking for a new impetus. The fact that the U21s were almost eleven away from the European Championship due to injuries is also a reason for the poor performance, but no excuse for the others’ lack of fighting against England. “Courageless, heartless” is how midfielder Angelo Stiller felt about his team’s latest performance.

It was also noticed that under new U21 coach Antonio Di Salvo the team spirit and cohesion needed for such a tournament was not showing. Di Salvo actually knows how it works, having experienced it for five years – as an assistant to head coach Stefan Kuntz, who had led three successive U21 generations to three European Championship finals with his charisma and enthusiasm, in 2017 and 2021 even the title.

The contract with Di Salvo was extended before the EM

However, they stopped a debate about Di Salvo at the DFB before the EM when they prematurely extended his contract until 2025. Consequently, Chatzialexiou said on Wednesday evening: “There is no discussion about the coaches because we expressed our confidence in Toni before the tournament because we see how he works.”

From now on, Di Salvo with his assistants Hermann Gerland, Daniel Niedzkowski and Klaus Thomforde will also be able to lead the next U21 generation to the next European Championships, which will take place in Slovakia in 2025. Seven players from the current squad are then authorized to play for age reasons. It is certainly goalkeeper Noah Atubolu (SC Freiburg) and center forwards Youssoufa Moukoko (BVB) and Nelson Weiper (Mainz 05). Because they are in relevant positions, the hopes of the football nation now rest on them.

Originalmente publicado em https://www.sueddeutsche.de/sport/u21-deutschland-em-aus-england-1.5979961

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