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Portugal v Germany: reporters' views

The U21 EURO semi-final in Olomouc brings together two unbeaten teams – UEFA.com's Nuno Tavares and Philip Röber explain why each might believe this is their year.

There is a feeling in Portugal that Bernardo Silva & Co represent their best generation since 1994
There is a feeling in Portugal that Bernardo Silva & Co represent their best generation since 1994 ©Sportsfile

Portugal v Germany has the look of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object as the U21 EURO's two unbeaten sides go head to head in the first semi-final.

The stats show us that no two teams have passed the ball better, while the pre-match talk from both camps was about acquiring a more clinical touch, but what is the gut feeling of those who follow these semi-final rivals? UEFA.com's two team reporters give their views.

Nuno Tavares, Portugal reporter
When Sweden's Simon Tibbling described Portugal as "probably the best team of the tournament" after his late equalising goal against the Group B winners on Thursday, he was only echoing the general feeling among many who have watched Rui Jorge's side in the Czech Republic – they are indeed the most gifted outfit in the competition when it comes to sheer talent.

The golden generation of Portuguese football – led by Luís Figo, Rui Costa and João Pinto – fell just short of winning this trophy in 1994 but there seems to be a conviction like never before in the country that this current team are capable of taking that final step that has always eluded Portugal at U21 level.

Team-mates: Oliveira's Portugal
Team-mates: Oliveira's Portugal

It is not that the talent was not always there but the fact that this team are on a run of 14 unbeaten competitive matches highlights the real key to their success: a winning mentality. Much of the credit for Portugal's resurrection as an U21 powerhouses rests on the shoulders of Rui Jorge, the former Porto and Sporting left-back who has found the right blend of uncompromising hard work and attacking fantasy. William Carvalho and Bernardo Silva personify this rare blend and much of Portugal's hopes of beating Germany will lie on how they perform at the Ander Stadium.

Philip Röber, Germany reporter
As a footballing nation renowned for stepping up their game as a tournament progresses, Germany have shown signs of improvement ever since their below-par first half against Serbia in their opening match. Sure, chances were left untaken against Denmark and the Czech Republic, but as the team become more fluent after a two-and-a-half month break without a friendly before arriving here, they look capable of shifting to another gear against Portugal.

Five of the best group stage goals
Five of the best group stage goals

Indeed coach Horst Hrubesch suggested as much on the eve of the game when he said: "Whenever needed, we've been able to take our game up a gear." Germany fans will hope these words apply to playmaker Max Meyer, who has not yet met the high expectations on his shoulders in this tournament; if he fails to shine again, it seems likely Hrubesch will not hesitate to bring on one of the many promising alternatives he has available for this position.

Germany's protagonists have cited their wastefulness in front of goal as the main problem for the team so far, but with the stakes getting higher, they should find a few of those missing percentage points when it comes to being clinical. In Joshua Kimmich, UEFA.com's wonderkid of the week, they have a player capable of keeping Portugal's central threat in check with his good anticipation, while Amin Younes can pounce whenever the opposition full-backs get too adventurous and give him too much space.

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