Where the U21 EURO final was won and lost

Germany's final win owed plenty to a powerful, aggressive start that knocked Spain out of their stride and provided the platform for a deserved triumph at the Krakow Stadium.

Saúl Ñíguez and Spain's attacking stars were smothered by Germany
Saúl Ñíguez and Spain's attacking stars were smothered by Germany ©Sportsfile

After Stefan Kuntz's men picked up their country's second U21 EURO title, UEFA.com picks out the key reasons behind their triumph.

Produced the goods when it mattered
Finals are about performing in a given 90 minutes, and Germany undoubtedly reserved their best display of the tournament for when it counted most. Given that they had been pushed to the brink physically by England in the semi-finals, energy levels might have been low, but even after their high-octane start, they never wilted.

A Yannick Gerhardt challenge two minutes from time that sent the ball spinning into the press stand high in the Krakow Stadium was embossed with the unflinching determination they showed throughout. "We were super aggressive and didn't allow Spain to get a foothold in the game," Max Meyer told UEFA.com. "We'd already played superbly against England, but the first half today was just outstanding."

Niklas Stark embodied Germany's determined display
Niklas Stark embodied Germany's determined display©AFP/Getty Images

Planned to perfection
The opening exchanges set the tone, with a startled Spain knocked quite rudely out of a stride they were never truly allowed to hit. Every Germany player drained the last drop out of their talented and weary bodies to ensure they carried out their coach's instructions to the letter.

"We had a plan, and the team did it really well," marvelled Kuntz, enjoying the fruits of a carefully mapped-out strategy executed well. "It's not easy to play against our team when they show so much courage and conviction in what they do"

Cool and calm wins the day
Germany looked relaxed, unfettered by the enormity of the occasion and the chance to make history. Who can forget the way Marc-Oliver Kempf casually, but brilliantly, stepped out of his own penalty area and away from pressure in the first half? "I told them they had nothing to lose," said Kuntz, whose own approach to his job – a refreshing blend of humour, joie de vivre and passion – has clearly rubbed off on his team.

Marco Asensio was not given a chance to shine
Marco Asensio was not given a chance to shine©AFP/Getty Images

Uncomfortable night
Spain made a bright start but it lasted little more than five minutes as they simply failed to assert themselves in the face of Germany's power and aggression. There were flashes of individual quality from Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos in the first half, but as a team they could not find their rhythm.

"In the first half they made us suffer, we weren't comfortable out there, we didn't like what was happening," admitted coach Albert Celades. They looked ruffled at times and some uncertainty might have led to at least one more Germany goal but for Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Stars stifled
This Spain team have some wonderful attacking talents capable of turning a match in the blink of an eye – as highlighted by two hat-tricks in four matches en route to the final. It didn't happen for them here. Captain Gerard Deulofeu had a frustrating night but he was not alone. "Playing against a team of this level you have to do a lot of things well," noted Celades. They didn't.

It took until the second half for Saúl Ñíguez to really test Julian Pollersbeck. The moment that said it would not be their night came in the 72nd minute when Ceballos drove in a brilliant shot from distance and the ball swerved a whisker wide. In previous matches those shots flew in. As Celades said himself, quite simply, "It wasn't to be."

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