Italy v Germany background

Despite boasting 11 Under-21 final appearances between them, Italy and Germany have met only once in the competition, Germany looking for a repeat of their 2009 semi-final win.

Andreas Beck celebrates sending Germany through to the 2009 final at Italy's expense
Andreas Beck celebrates sending Germany through to the 2009 final at Italy's expense ©Getty Images

Germany won their only previous competitive fixture against Italy, and will hope for a repeat performance as the teams conclude their Group C campaign.

Previous meetings
• Italy and Germany have featured in the Under-21 final on 11 occasions between them – Italy winning five titles to their opponents' one – but they have met just once before in the competition.

• That came in the 2009 semi-final in Helsingborg, where a 48th-minute goal from Andreas Beck proved enough for Horst Hrubesch's side to overcome an Italy team coached by Pierluigi Casiraghi. Germany went on to lift the title for the one and only time.

• The sides at the Olympia Stadium on 26 June 2009 were:
Italy: Consigli, Motta (Pisano 86), Andreolli, Criscito, Morosini, Acquafresca (Paloschi 79), Giovinco, Bocchetti, Candreva (Abate 68), Cigarini, Balotelli.
Germany: Neuer, Beck, Boenisch, Höwedes, Boateng, Aogo, Dejagah (Wagner 86), Johnson, Marin (Ben-Hatira 54), Özil (Hummels 90+1), Castro.

Match background

Italy
• Italy kept seven clean sheets in qualifying, conceding a mere three goals in ten matches – the joint-best defensive record overall, along with Denmark and England's. They shared two draws with second-placed Serbia but won seven of their other eight Group 2 games, booking their trip to Poland with a goalless draw in Lithuania on the last day.

• Italy's five U21 titles came in a 12-year spell between 1992 and 2004 – three in a row in 1992, 1994 and 1996, with further triumphs in 2000 and 2004. They were runners-up to Spain in 2013, having also lost the 1986 final, and have reached a further four semi-finals.

• However, 2013 was the only time in the past six tournaments they have made it past the group stage, a hurdle that proved insurmountable again in 2015.

• Italy will stage the 2019 European U21 Championship.

Germany
• Germany scored 35 goals – more than any other team in qualifying – to top Group 7, and were the only side to make the finals with a perfect record having won all ten qualifiers. They struck four goals apiece in four of their five home matches, although their biggest win came away – 6-0 in the Faroe Islands. Stefan Kuntz's men finished eight points clear of Austria in the standings.

• Semi-finalists in 2015 – losing to Portugal – Germany's sole U21 title came in 2009, when a squad including Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Höwedes, Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil claimed the trophy in Sweden.

• Germany have been in five of the last seven tournaments, but survived the group stage in only 2009 and 2015. They were beaten quarter-finalists in 1992, 1996 and 1998.

• West Germany were runners-up in 1982, also contesting the quarter-finals in 1990.

Coach and player links
• Manuel Locatelli was in the Italy team that beat Germany 1-0 in the 2016 European U19 Championship group stage.

• Yannick Gerhardt made his senior Germany debut in a goalless draw with Italy at San Siro on 15 November 2016.

• Mahmoud Dahoud faced Federico Chiesa when Borussia Mönchengladbach took on Fiorentina in the UEFA Europa League round of 32. The Italian side got the only goal of the first leg in Germany, but Mönchengladbach went through with a 4-3 aggregate win.

Coach profiles

Luigi Di Biagio, Italy
A product of the Lazio academy, Di Biagio made his name with Zdeněk Zeman's Foggia in the early 1990s before returning to the Italian capital to represent Roma. After four seasons with the Giallorossi, four with Inter and three with Brescia, the midfielder retired in 2007 following a brief stint with Ascoli. Capped 31 times by Italy, Di Biagio missed the decisive penalty as the Azzurri fell to hosts France in the quarter-finals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Two years later he helped Italy reach the UEFA EURO 2000 final, where they again lost to Les Bleus.

Moved into coaching in 2008 at youth level with smaller clubs in Rome. In 2011 he was appointed Italy U20 coach and in 2013 he was promoted to the U21s. He led the team to the 2015 European U21 Championship but the Azzurrini failed to reach the knockouts despite coming level with eventual champions Sweden in their group. 

Stefan Kuntz, Germany
An influential player at whichever club he played, Kuntz had his most successful period during a six-year stay with Kaiserslautern. He landed two trophies – the Bundesliga in 1991 and the German Cup a year before – and was also named Germany's footballer of the year in 1991. Twice the Bundesliga's Golden Boot winner, he only had a short international career of four years, although that did incorporate victory at EURO '96.

His coaching career began in the lower leagues; Kuntz has never managed a team higher than the 2. Bundesliga and, after five years at four different clubs, he moved up to become general manager at Koblenz and later Bochum. After eight years as CEO of Kaiserslautern, Kuntz succeeded Horst Hrubesch as Germany U21 coach.