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Concentration key to Germany progress

Marc Stendera says Germany must "refocus and concentrate" to overcome Austria, who Joshua Kimmich expects "to sit deep and keep men behind the ball."

Germany's Joshua Kimmich (left) escapes from Viktor Kovalenko of Ukraine
Germany's Joshua Kimmich (left) escapes from Viktor Kovalenko of Ukraine ©Getty Images

Germany must keep their concentration and focus against Austria if they are to reach the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final for the third time, according to midfield pair Marc Stendera and Joshua Kimmich.

Marcus Sorg's side produced an assured display against Ukraine to make certain of a place in the last four, responding to their coach's demands to eradicate the errors that undermined their matchday two display against Serbia. "Our goal was to qualify for the semi-finals, and we've succeeded in that," Stendera told UEFA.com. "That made us happy; now we have to refocus, concentrate on Austria and hopefully we'll be happy again."

"Opponents like Ukraine sit back and wait for you to make mistakes, and we knew we couldn't make the same errors we did against Serbia," Kimmich added. "We made less mistakes compared to that game. Making mistakes is normal; if you don't play a risky ball, you don't progress, and you can learn from that – when to do it. It depends on the situation; sometimes it makes more sense to play a safe ball and sometimes you can afford to be risky."

Gambling may not necessarily be on the agenda against Austria, however. "I expect Austria to sit deep and keep men behind the ball," added Kimmich, whose side have scored in the first three minutes of both matches they have won so far – and Stendera believes that could be crucial again. "Naturally an early goal helps; it always does against teams that sit very deep because it makes them do something different," the Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder explained. "It's very important that we keep moving the ball, that really helps us."

Marc Stendera suffered U17 final disappointment in 2012
Marc Stendera suffered U17 final disappointment in 2012©Getty Images

The Austria match will be a reunion of different sorts for both Kimmich and Stendera, presenting the former with a chance to renew acquaintances with an old team-mate. "I know [Austria defender] Francesco Lovric very well, we went to boarding school together at VfB Stuttgart," Kimmich said. "We're not really in contact, but it'll be nice to see him. Austria are opponents like any others to me but it's a European Championship semi-final and that makes it more important. I know Austria and Germany have a serious rivalry but perhaps that means more to Austria than us."

Stendera, meanwhile, had international experience against Austria to draw on. "We played them in a U17 friendly [in April 2012] and won 2-1," he said of a match in which he scored both Germany goals. "We'll make sure we're well prepared for this. Knockout football is different: you either win or you lose. Because of that you have to be better prepared and make sure you concentrate that little bit more."