Three Zerofivers in final of U21 Euros
Öztunali and Müller to face Aarón in Udine on Sunday night – Mateta and Niakhaté knocked out in semifinals
Five Zerofivers had advanced into the semifinals at the U21 European Championship in Italy and San Marino. Given that defending champions Germany would face Romania, and France would meet with Spain in the semifinals, it was clear that not all five would reach the final. A 4-1 loss against Spain—Aarón was on the bench—meant that France’s Jean-Philippe Mateta and Moussa Niakhaté were out of the competition. Mateta scored France’s loan goal from the spot the day before his 22nd birthday. After Germany’s 4-2 win against Romania, Levin Öztunali and Flo Müller will face Spain on Sunday in Udine (20:45 CEST).
Everything seemed in order for France after 16 minutes played. Mateta converted from the spot to take the lead and bring France one step closer to advancing to the final. But, 75 minutes later things were very different as Spain had turned the match in their favour in order to qualify for the final after an outstanding performance. The loss ushered in a start of the summer break for Mateta and Niakhaté.
At least one title winner from Mainz
For a time, the win seemed far from certain for Germany’s starting XI, where Öztunali featured for the full 90 minutes. Romania had drawn level by halftime, after Hoffenheim’s Nadiem Amiri gave Germany the lead. Freiburg’s Luca Waldschmidt scored a brace for Germany before Amiri added his second of the game to seal the deal.
Whereas Mainz had sent the most players to the semifinal of the U21 Euros, the same is also true for the final. In a rematch of the 2017 final, Aarón, Öztunali and Müller will be able to represent Mainz. One thing is for sure: at least one of the players will return to the Bruchweg as a European champion.