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Germany vs Portugal: U21 final preview

Germany take on Portugal for the U21 title on Sunday in Ljubljana: all you need to know.

UEFA via Getty Images

Germany face Portugal in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final in Ljubljana on Sunday 6 June at 21:00 CET.

For tickets click here; there will also be a ticket office at the stadium.

Final: facts and figures


In brief

Germany progressed quietly through March's group stage but have exploded into life in the knockout phase. They showed flair and grit before overcoming Denmark in an epic penalty shoot-out then burst out of the blocks against the Netherlands, winning 2-1 with Florian Wirtz scoring on 29 seconds (a competition record) and eight minutes. That put the 2017 winners and 2019 runners-up in a record-equalling third straight final. Coach Stefan Kuntz has overseen all three of these runs, while two years ago forward Lukas Nmecha came off the bench against Spain and midfielder Arne Maier and back-up keeper Markus Schubert were in the squad too. Kuntz hopes to have right-back Josha Vagnoman available after injury kept him out on Thursday.

Watch Germany score after 29 seconds
Watch Germany score after 29 seconds

Portugal only edged past Spain with an own goal in the semi-finals but overall they have looked the tournament's strongest attacking force and are on a run of 12 straight wins in this competition, including qualifying. That sequence is behind only the 15-game record set by Spain in the 1990s, in the days before a final tournament group stage. They are also on familiar ground at Stadion Stožice, where they beat England and Switzerland in the group stage and Italy in the quarter-finals, whereas Germany have until now played in Hungary.

Even finals are nothing new for much of the squad: Diogo Dalot, Diogo Leite, Gedson Fernandes, Diogo Costa, Diogo Queirós, Jota, Florentino and Rafael Leão all helped Portugal win the 2016 U17 EURO decider against Spain, with Luís Maximiano being an unused Portuguese sub. Then two years later they became the first nation to follow an U17 win with a U19 triumph by the same cohort: João Virginia, Florentino and Jota all played in the 4-3 extra-time success over Italy, Diogo Costa and Diogo Queirós also in the squad.

The goal that put Portugal into U21 EURO final
The goal that put Portugal into U21 EURO final

On top of that, Diogo Costa, Diogo Dalot, Diogo Queirós, Abdu Conté, Gedson Fernandes, Jota and Rafael Leão all appeared in 2017's U19 final which Portugal lost 2-1 to England, the winning goal scored by Hamburg-born Nmecha, now of course leading the line for Germany. Furthermore, Tomás Tavares, Vitinha, Fábio Vieira and Gonçalo Ramos figured in the 2019 U19 final loss to Spain, meaning 14 of Portugal's possible selection on Sunday have played in a UEFA national-team final before.

Where to watch the final

Fans can find their local U21 broadcast partner(s) and details of UEFA.tv coverage here.

Previous U21 finals meetings

2015 (semi-final): Portugal 5-0 Germany
2006 (group stage): Germany 0-1 Portugal
2004 (group stage): Germany 1-2 Portugal

Portugal v Germany past U21 EURO meetings
Portugal v Germany past U21 EURO meetings

Route to the final

Germany

Group A runners-up: Hungary W3-0 (Székesfehérvár), Netherlands D1-1 (Székesfehérvár), Romania D0-0 (Budapest)
Quarter-final: Denmark D2-2, W6-5pens (Székesfehérvár)
Semi-final: Netherlands W2-1 (Székesfehérvár)
Goalscorers
: Lukas Nmecha (3), Ridle Baku (2), Florian Wirtz (2), Jonathan Burkardt (1)
U21 EURO best
: winners (2009, 2017)

Previous finals
2019: L1-2 vs Spain (Udine)
2017: W1-0 vs Spain (Kraków)
2009: W4-0 vs England (Malmö)
1982: L4-5agg vs England (L1-3a, Sheffield; W3-2h, Bremen)

Highlights: Denmark 2-2 Germany (5-6 pens)
Highlights: Denmark 2-2 Germany (5-6 pens)
Meet the teams


Portugal

Group D winners: Croatia W1-0 (Koper-Capodistria), England W2-0 (Ljubljana), Switzerland W3-0 (Ljubljana)
Quarter-final: Italy W5-3aet (Ljubljana)
Semi-final: Spain W1-0 (Maribor)
Goalscorers
: Dany Mota (3), Francisco Conceição (2), Francisco Trincão* (2), Fábio Vieira (1), Jota (1), Diogo Queirós (1), Gonçalo Ramos (1), own goal (1)
U21 EURO best: runners-up (1994, 2015)

Previous finals
2015: D0-0aet, L4-5pens vs Sweden (Prague)
1994: L0-1aet vs Italy (Montpellier)

*Not included in knockout stage squad

Highlights: Portugal 5-3 Italy (aet)
Highlights: Portugal 5-3 Italy (aet)

Possible line-ups

Germany: Dahmen; Vagnoman, Pieper, Schlotterbeck, Raum; Dorsch, Maier; Baku, Wirtz, Berisha; Nmecha

Portugal: Diogo Costa; Diogo Dalot, Diogo Leite, Diogo Queirós, Abdu Conté; Vitinha, Daniel Bragança, Fábio Vieira, Gedson Fernandes; Dany Mota, Rafael Leão

Referee: Giorgi Kruashvili

Meet the teams

Germany: There was an enforced reshuffle for the semi-final, with Baku moved to right-back with Vagnoman injured, and Niklas Dorsch returning from suspension in midfield. But their start could not have been better: 14 passes straight from kick-off to score the fastest goal in U21 finals history. Wirtz, 18, got that goal and soon added another – he was with the senior squad in March but has been a crucial addition for the knockouts to support Nmecha up front. David Raum, pushing up at left-back, and captain Maier in midfield are also shining, while the bench looks strong, especially forward Burkhardt. A versatile team with huge attacking capabilities.

All of Germany's group goals
All of Germany's group goals

Portugal: Pushed harder by Spain than they have been all competition, Portugal still came through to proceed to their third U21 final. Abdu Conté should keep his place at left-back, with boss Rui Jorge unlikely to tweak the rest of his semi-final starting XI, who stretched their winning streak to 12 in knocking out the defending champions. That means Fábio Vieira remaining at the tip of a midfield diamond behind front two Dany Mota and Rafael Leão, whose pace posed La Rojita real difficulties on the counter-attack, as Portugal seek a first U21 continental crown.

View from the camps

Stefan Kuntz, Germany coach: "This team spirit is really outstanding. The teams that were rated higher in terms of market value are all at home. I think the lads have already shown they have a lot of talent in them."

All of Portugal's group goals
All of Portugal's group goals

Finn Dahmen, Germany goalkeeper: "You don't need to motivate yourself for a U21 EURO final. For most of us, it's the biggest game we've had in our careers. You don't experience this very often in your lifetime, perhaps this will be the only time, so we have to give everything to try and win it."

Niklas Dorsch, Germany midfielder: "I've never been in a final before and I'm really looking forward to the game. My family will, after a long time, be back in the stadium to see me play. I'm really looking forward to it and hope that we can also enjoy it. If we have the same approach as we have had up to now, I'm convinced we'll be successful."

Rui Jorge, Portugal coach: "I would not talk about individual [Germany] players, because they're a very close-knit team. They are aggressive and have pace and intensity in their movement and passing, which is difficult to counter. The forward runs from their full-backs given their play a dimension that is also difficult to handle. They're a great team."

Vitinha, Portugal midfielder: "Right now, we've got great motivation being in the final, that's what we're focused on. Let's train more, put right what we didn't do so well and keep what we did well, and continue moving forward together."