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The final of the UEFA Under-21 European Championship drew its close and Germany was declared the champions. They battled it out against an in-form Portugal side and beat them by a lone goal. Lukas Nmecha’s early strike in the second half decided the title. The Germans take home their third title and deservedly so. Stefan Kuntz’s side was not the favourites to win the trophy after the end of the group stages, but their performances in the semi and final shows they have done enough to be champions. The U21 finals did not disappoint and both Portugal and Germany gave us a final worth watching.

The Portugal side had a comfortable set of results leading up to the final. They had won all their matches barring the final and would be disappointed in not finishing the job. However, the future does look bright and many of these young talents will be called upon for their senior teams in the future. Portugal’s Fabio Vieira was named the Player of the Tournament.



Let’s take a look at the key takeaways from the match.




The opening minutes of the final witnessed an enthralling Portugal side that looked sure to score an early goal. The spark that was missing in the semi-final seemed to have been rekindled and the players looked fired up. Although they did not enjoy the majority of the ball, they were dangerous when they had it. A high aggressive press enabled Rui Jorge’s men to regain possession in advanced areas. AC Milan right-back Diogo Dalot and Sporting CP forward Tiago Thomas were the most notable threats Germany had to deal with in the first twenty minutes.


Just when things seemed like it was going to be Portugal’s day, Florian Wirtz sprang into action revitalizing the German aspirations. The 18-year-old Bayer Leverkusen midfielder shot from range in the fifteenth minute and was unlucky not to score. The effort deflected off a defender and hit the underside of the bar, much to the relief of Diogo Costa in goal.



Wirtz’s effort was the trigger that the Germans needed. Up until then, Portugal had already made four attempts on goal while Germany was unable to even find their way out of their own half. Post the effort, Germany was bossing the attack. If not for Diogo Costa’s brilliance in goal, the Portugal side would have ended up a goal or two down by halftime.

The first half ended with Portugal’s best chance of the game. A swift counterattack released Wolverhampton midfielder Vitinha who made an incredible run into the box. A neatly timed drop of the shoulder inside the box got him free of the chasing defender. However, the other German players including the keeper, crowded him out and he was forced to lay off the ball, but that too ended in vain.


Germany kept their momentum in the early moments of the second half and deservedly found the net in the 49th minute. A neat interplay in midfield opened up space in the far right for right-back Ridle Baku to attack. The Bundesliga player carried the ball to the edge of the box before waiting for the right time to string a pass through to Lukas Nmecha. The No.10’s deft touch took him around the onrushing keeper and enabled him to get his shot into an empty net.



Rui Jorge made three early changes in the second half to ramp up the attack. Jota in the left-wing being the most impactful of those changes. However, despite maintaining a high press and cunning passes through the channels, the Portuguese players were unable to trouble Dahmen in the German goal. Portugal started playing a much riskier style of football as the second half closed in on its final moments.



A higher Portugal defensive line helped the Germans as they looked to use their pace to counter-attack whenever the opportunity arose. If not for the keeper Diogo Costa, who was arguably Portugal’s best player, the game would have been done and dusted. Costa produced at least three excellent saves to keep Portugal’s hopes intact until the final whistle.


Germany was well-drilled in defence and had a clear motive when attacking. The right flank of the German side was the most notable of the team in the game. Florian Writz was the instigator in the first half, while Maier became the most impressive presence in midfield. Maier was key to the defensive cover that was needed to keep the Portugal wingers quiet and also to ward off any danger in the central areas.



Ridle Baku was the most impressive of the lot. His enticing runs in the far right and the appetite to make recoveries proved to be the game-changer. He was a key presence upfront and an outlet when the switching play. The player won five of the six duels he engaged in and created three big chances. One of which created the goal that won them the title. Germany’s future looks promising.

Both Germany and Portugal can expect their U21 players to make an impact in the upcoming seasons at the club level.

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