Germany’s rising stars marked themselves out as the ones to beat in the future as a 1-0 win over Spain in Krakow secured the European Under-21 Championship title.
Spain entered the match as favourites with the likes of Marco Asensio, Saul Niguez and Gerard Deulofeu – signed by Barcelona earlier in the day – powering their attack, but Stefan Kuntz’s defence held firm.
Germany, who have the likes of eligible players Timo Werner, Leon Goretzka and Julian Draxler representing the full national squad at the Confederations Cup, had the better of the chances in the first half and their goal – an improvised header by Hertha Berlin’s Mitchell Weiser – was richly deserved.
Spain launched forward after the break but Julian Pollersbeck was excellent in the German goal to deny Spain a third title in four tournaments and secure Germany’s second title.
— UEFA U21 EURO (@UEFAUnder21)30 June 2017
Spain’s much-vaunted starlets initially struggled to find momentum and Max Meyer hit the post early on with a flicked header before Serge Gnabry drilled into the side-netting.
Asensio and Deulofeu were the most likely to make something happen at the other end, but Marc-Oliver Kempf stepped in to cut out the Real Madrid man’s smart backheeled ball towards his skipper.
And Germany’s goal was equally smart, Weiser twisting his body to nod Jeremy Toljan’s right-wing cross over Kepa and into the far corner five minutes before the break.
The second half played out in a predictable manner as Spain hammered at the Germany door, Saul bending an effort goalwards that Pollersbeck brilliantly palmed away.
Kepa denied Gnabry one-on-one as the Germans sniffed a decisive strike, and Kempf headed just wide from the resulting corner.
Dani Ceballos, whose performances in this competition have reportedly alerted Real Madrid, almost scored a thunderous effort after beating three men and Deulofeu shot off-target as Spain became more and more desperate.
And time ran out for Spain, leaving Germany to celebrate victory once again, following their 2009 success which acted as a precursor for World Cup glory three years ago.