What: 2013 European Under-21 Championship
Who: Germany U21 vs Spain U21
When: Sunday 9th June, 2013, at 19:30 UK Time
Where: Netanya Stadium, Netanya, Israel
Germany Face Uphill Task After Dutch Defeat
Germany meet Spain in what is a clash between the last two winners of the Under-21 title, but coach Rainer Adrion’s team will face an early exit from the tournament if they lose this game. Defeat to Netherlands in the last minute of the group opener has left the Germans with an uphill struggle.
Adrion was left ruing what was a slow start against the Dutch, who outplayed Germany in the first half of their encounter to take a 2-0 lead. But a Lewis Holtby inspired fightback brought the Germans level, before their agonising defeat. They will rue having conceded twice from corners as well, the first a well worked passing routine, the second a straightforward cross.
There is no doubt that this Germany side lacks the stars of the team which won in 2009, that featured Manuel Neuer and Mesut Ozil among others. But this group illustrated against the Dutch that they possess some of the same characteristics as the senior side; pace, skill and a ruthless counter attack. If they have the famous German spirit then they could still go far.
Spain Overcome First Hurdle In Title Defence
Spain had to wait a while to make a winning start to the defence of their title after overcoming Russia 1-0. It was a strike by substitute Alvaro Morata which earned them three points and the young forward may have done enough to cement a place in the side going forward.
Russia defended stoutly and were a useful test for Spain’s youngsters, who had to work out how to break down a massed defence. It may actually be that playing attacking sides in the shape of Germany and the Netherlands actually helps Spain, giving them more time and space on the counter attack.
Sergio Canales has already been lost to injury, leaving Spain a man short, but if any side are able to cope with an absence it is this star studded team. None of their rivals can match the Spanish for experience and quality, but Julen Lopetegui will be keen that his team take another three points as they look to ensure they finish top of their group to avoid a probable last four clash with Italy. Can they extend their international dominance?
Italy 1-0 Germany (06/02; Friendly)
Israel 1-2 Germany (24/03; Friendly)
Netherlands 3-2 Germany (06/06; Euro U21)
Belgium 1-1 Spain (05/02; Friendly)
Spain 5-2 Norway (21/03; Friendly)
Spain 1-0 Russia (06/06; Euro U21)
Germany U21: Peniel Mlapa (doubt)
Spain U21: Sergio Canales
Players to watch
Germany – Lewis Holtby: Germany may have lost but Holtby was possibly the best player on the pitch against the Netherlands. The Tottenham man revelled, particularly in the second half, dropping deep to dictate the play, performing like a German Andrea Pirlo. He won a penalty for his side and scored a superb second, attacking space brilliantly to expose the Dutch defence. Another all-round display of that sort will have the purists purring again.
Spain – Isco: The Malaga midfielder has won rave reviews for his displays in the Champions League and he can now catch the eye again in continental competition. Isco is widely tipped to leave Andalucia this summer and with some of Europe’s top teams interested in his services this is an ideal chance to shine. He could have had an assist or two in the game against Russia had Rodrigo’s finishing been sharper, but still showed his usual skill. With Iker Muniain off form, Isco’s ball carrying and technical will be pivotal.
Germany struggled to contain the Netherlands in the opening stages of their first match and will struggle against the Spanish if they make another sluggish start. Spain should be expected to monopolise possession, with Thiago Alcantara dictating play for Lopetegui’s side.
Adrion will be keen to get his team to press the Spanish high and deny them space in dangerous areas though, and this could be the key if the Germans are to win. They will need to win the ball back and look to Holtby to find runs quickly. The more they can get the Spurs man into the game the better their chances.
It would be a surprise if Germany were to make the same mistakes against Spain that they did against the Dutch, but they have not been able to bring some of their key figures to Israel and it showed with the defensive errors made in the opener. The experience of Thiago Alcantara is vital but complemented by the youthful exuberance of the ever creative Isco and Asier Illaramendi. Germany will look to Borussia Monchengladbach’s Tony Jantscke to marshal the defence but they need goalkeeper Bernd Leno to improve after a catastrophic error for the second goal against the Dutch. It is that defending which could just cost the Germans dear. Germany 1-2 Spain.
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