Germany heads into the 2015 under-21 European Championship in the Czech Republic as one of the favorites to win the tournament. With a stacked team, the Germans will be the team to beat in Group A.
The Czech Republic is hosting its second large sporting event this year, as they will be the site for the Under-21 European Championship that starts on June 17. The Czech Republic hosted the IIHF Hockey World Championship in May. Although it’s a under-21 tournament, as long as the players are born in or after 1992 they are eligible, making the maximum age 23. That’s because the qualifications for the tournament started in 2013.
The Germans went through the qualification group stage for the tournament undefeated, winning six and drawing two games. They won Group 6 on 20 points, eight points ahead of second-placed Romania. The team scored 25 goals in the eight group stage games and only allowed five. In the qualification playoffs they easily swept aside the Ukraine 5-0 on aggregate after a 3-0 win on the road and a 2-0 win at home.
The only worry for the team is that in the friendlies that they’ve played leading up to the tournament, the Germans have only won one game. They beat the Netherlands 3-1, but then followed that up with two straight draws against the Czech Republic (1-1) and Italy (2-2). They lost 3-2 against England in their latest friendly.
Looking at the roster, the Germans arguably have the best goalkeeper of the tournament in Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona). Ter Stegen was in net for Barcelona as they won the Champions League this season, and he will give Manuel Neuer a run for the starting job in the senior national team in the near future.
The 22-year-old keeper has four caps for the senior national team on his resume. Having such an elite goalkeeper in net is a big help, as we saw back in 2009 when the Germans won the tournament in Sweden with Neuer in net.
With a vast majority of players playing in the German Bundesliga, the players have a lot of experience from one of the best leagues in Europe, and the familiarity can be another big advantage. In midfield they have Max Meyer (Schalke 04) who is seen as one of German soccer’s biggest talents.
Depending on what formation national team coach Horst Hrubesch ends up going with, the Germans could field a striker duo of very high class in Kevin Volland (Hoffenheim) and Philipp Hofmann (Kaiserslautern). Volland, 22, scored 10 goals for Hoffenheim in all competitions this season, and has a starting position in the Hoffenheim lineup despite his relatively young age. Hofmann, 21, scored seven goals in 10 games for the U-21 national team during the qualifications.
Add Emre Can (Liverpool), Serge Gnabry (Arsenal), Moritz Leitner (Stuttgart), and Matthias Ginter (Borussia Dortmund) to the mix, and it becomes evident that the Germans has extremely talented team and they could repeat the success of the 2009-team that included players like Mezut Ozil (Arsenal), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), and Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich).
Germany kicks off the tournament by taking on Serbia on June 17, then face off against Denmark and then close out the group stage by going up against the hosting Czech Republic.
— DFB-Junioren (@DFB_Junioren) June 7, 2015