The Germany U21 team finished third in Group B on 4 points, dropping its first two games to strong sides in the Netherlands and Spain. With advancement impossible, their performance against Russia yesterday was nothing more than a prideful diversion for the team.
Germany vs. Netherlands
This match was a decidedly horrific showing for the first 45 minutes as the Netherlands jumped out to a deserved 2-0 lead on the backs of sloppy, terrible defending from the Germans. Following halftime, the Lewis Holtby single handedly carried this team up the mountain to equalize 2-2, showing exactly why Tottenham Hotspur was so anxious to acquire his services. If not for a momentary switch off, Germany might have walked away from this match with a draw, but 89' botched defending off a set piece saw the Netherlands secure all 3 points.
Germany vs. Spain
Once again Germany's defense was shambolic, and in particular Sebastian Rudy who defended like a drunken baboon. I now understand how Hoffenheim with a rather strong attack, shipped the most goals in the Bundesliga last season and only escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth. Sebastian Rudy looks good going forward, but at this point in his career, he is a defensive liability. He lost marker after marker in this game, hardly ever passed his marks, never tracked runners and was positionally undisciplined. Credit also goes to Spain who were able to stifle some of Lewis Holtby's creativity and reign in the German attack. Emre Can substituted in and played 20 rather uninspired minutes.
Germany vs. Russia
Before the 39' red card to Russian LB Georgy Schennikov, this was a very even and exciting match. Following Germany going a man up, it became a much more one sided event as the German attack hammered at the Russians, eventually winning 2-1, salvaging some dignity for the Germans.
The main reason we as FC Bayern Munich supporters should care about this was the presence of 19-year old Emre Can, considered the jewel of the organizations youth ranks, in this competition. The youngster saw 20 minutes of action in the 1-0 loss to Spain, playing as a second CM in a 4-1-4-1 that Adrion transitioned to. Can was clearly not suited to this role, as it relied heavily on his movement through traffic and his dribbling at pace, not exactly his best skills. It was an idiotic decision tactically by Rainer Adrion, considering the defensive pile of crap that Sebastian Rudy was in this tournament.
Can displayed an advanced tactical awareness, great positioning and was particularly fleet of foot in his cameo. His first touch was weaker than seen during the season, particularly when under pressure. His passing was fast and crisp and in most cases it was simply just too fast for his teammates. A lot of his performance spoke to a lack of familiarity with his U21 teammates, as should have been expected as this was his first appearance for the team. Also of note, is that he would make a terrible rugby player, as his yellow card was for attempting a hilariously clumsy two armed around the body tackle on Thiago Alcantara.
What were your impressions of this German U21 team? Did anyone stand out to you either positively or negatively?