DGermany’s U-21 national team was not able to get in the mood for the European Football Championship this summer with the hoped-for sense of achievement. Barely three months before the start of the tournament, coach Antonio Di Salvo’s side were held to a 0-0 draw by Romania in Sibiu on Tuesday. The defending champion is still waiting for his first victory in the year of the European Championship. “In the end, you have to say that we were not dangerous enough to score. We didn’t have the presence in the penalty area,” said Di Salvo.
Without numerous regular players, the German team put in a committed performance, but developed too little goal threat and didn’t make enough of their opportunities. “We have to play more clearly on goal and increase our pace of play,” demanded Ansgar Knauff from Frankfurt. All in all, Di Salvo was satisfied with the performance of his team: “They passed the character test. It wasn’t easy to play here.”
It was the last official test match for the selection of the German Football Association before the start of the European Championships in Georgia and Romania. In 86 days the first European Championship game against Israel is coming up. Other opponents in the group stage are England and the Czech Republic. Until then, Di Salvo only has the training camp in South Tyrol with two friendlies in June to prepare his team. In the substitutes Kenneth Schmidt and Henning Matriciani he gave two other debutants a chance of probation on Tuesday.
Germany lacks pace in Romania
The game in Sibiu started as Di Salvo predicted: intense and hard-fought. “We have prepared the team for the fact that there is no time to play calmly here, that there is direct action,” said the 43-year-old before kick-off at ProSieben Maxx. Driven by the 11,372 fans in the sold-out arena in Transylvania, the hosts went into the duels uncompromisingly and aggressively. Three yellow cards in the first quarter of an hour – two of them for the German selection – were proof of this.
Germany dominated the game and had more possession, Romania switched quickly and waited for counterattacks. Hertha BSC striker Jessic Ngankam had his first chance of the game four days after making his much-lauded debut in the 2-2 defeat of Japan. His shot from around 15 meters was no problem for the Romanian keeper (11th). Captain Yannik Keitel’s attempt from the edge of the penalty area was blocked (23′).
EM co-host Romania was particularly dangerous with set pieces and after transition situations. The greatest chance was defused by Freiburg goalkeeper Noah Atubolu, who was safe again and saved Stefan Baiaram’s header after a corner (33′). The German team lacked pace, especially in the second half. The eleven did not play the few promising opportunities consistently enough. Midfielder Angelo Stiller missed the best chance in the second half. The Hoffenheimer did not head free in front of the goal with pressure and placed enough (55th).