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Germany and Austria face off in last four

Germany and Austria have experienced their share of semi-final misery and expect a tight encounter, Marcus Sorg saying: "In knockout football a mistake can be brutal."

Germany captain Niklas Stark (left) with coach Marcus Sorg
Germany captain Niklas Stark (left) with coach Marcus Sorg ©Sportsfile

Germany and Austria are both ending long waits to appear in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship semi-finals: six years for the former, and eight for their Austrian opponents. Both have suffered two defeats at this stage, and are desperate to avoid a third at the Szusza Ferenc Stadion in what is their first competitive U19 meeting.

Five-goal Davie Selke is the lone forward with Marc Stendera usually deployed just behind; he describes his role as "feeding the striker". Joshua Kimmich and Levin Öztunali provide the platform in midfield; Niklas Stark started there but has dropped back to centre-back in the last two games. Full-backs Kevin Akpoguma and Fabian Holthaus push forward at every opportunity.

How they got here
Marcus Sorg's side knocked out six-time champions Spain in the elite round to earn a first finals appearance since 2008, and were quickly into their stride on matchday one thanks to Selke's first-minute opener against Bulgaria, setting up a 3-0 win. Only a last-gasp equaliser from captain Stark prevented defeat against Serbia, but two more Selke strikes took his finals tally to five goals – and ten for the season – to see off Ukraine and secure first place in Group B.

Davie Selke has five goals so far
Davie Selke has five goals so far©Sportsfile

Semi-final pedigree
2008: Germany 2-1 Czech Republic (aet)
2007: Germany 2-3 Greece
2005: France 3-2 Germany
No semi-finals in 2002, when Germany reached the final

What they say
Knockout matches are a very, very important experience for these players, it helps them grow and develop. In knockout football you cannot correct your mistakes, and mistakes can be brutal. I hope the [U17 experience in 2012] will help: I hope they'll draw on that and take the positive things out of it mentally to be successful here. I expect that we'll keep the same levels of organisation we showed [against Ukraine] and that we'll be able to show more pace up front.
Marcus Sorg, coach

Having conceded only three goals in their six qualifying fixtures, Andreas Heraf's team have carried that form into the finals. Defensively solid, they sit deep and wait for opponents to make mistakes before hitting on the break. Much of the play flows through Sinan Bytyqi, who has the freedom to float all over the pitch.

Andreas Heraf at Austria training
Andreas Heraf at Austria training©Sportsfile

How they got here
In the finals for the first time since 2010, Austria began strongly with a 3-1 win against hosts Hungary before booking their place in the semi-finals with a match to spare thanks to a 3-0 defeat of Israel. Needing victory against Portugal to finish first in Group A, Andreas Heraf's side drew level early in the second half through Florian Grillitsch, yet ultimately succumbed to a late Portuguese winner.

Semi-final pedigree
2006: Spain 5-0 Austria
2003: Austria 3-6 Portugal (aet)

What they say
The semi-final is like a final for us. If we win it, then we're lucky to have a second final afterwards. We were up against top-level opponents in Portugal, but we were on a par with them. Losing to them is going to make no difference because we have played 14 games and had 11 wins with two defeats: each time we lost, we always bounced right back. The lads reacted well during qualifying so I really cannot see one defeat knocking us off track. Now we're burning to make history. We want to show what we're made of.
Andreas Heraf, coach

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