Deeply disappointed, Antonio Di Salvo stood motionless in front of his dugout after Batumi's embarrassment, his players sneaking blankly towards the fans. The German U21s sealed their early failure at the European Championship with a miserable performance against England and did not make it through the preliminary round for the first time in ten years. "It hurts," said Tom Krauss from FC Schalke 04. "We all imagined it very differently, that's clear," admitted Coach Di Salvo on Sat.1.
His team deservedly lost 0: 2 (0: 2) against the title favorites on Wednesday and thus also missed the Olympic ticket for Paris 2024 - as bottom of the table. About six months after the World Cup embarrassment of the senior team in Qatar, the early fiasco also fueled the severe crisis in German football. Even before the final whistle, German fans in the stadium were singing: "We're fed up."
Cameron Archer (4th minute) and Harvey Elliott (21st) scored the goals against the young Germans - who competed as the defending champions - in front of 9,587 spectators. After 90 minutes without a chance plus stoppage time, Krauss came to an alarming conclusion: "There was a difference in quality today, you could see that brutally."
The DFB-Elf embarrassed themselves with just one point from three games in the feasible preliminary round group. Germany's U21s have never been so bad in a European Championship participation. Since the introduction of the group stage, the team has clinched at least one win when qualifying. For Di Salvo, too, the first tournament as head coach after the successful era of Stefan Kuntz and his three final appearances in a row and two titles was sobering across the board. "Of course we're constantly questioning ourselves. Now we have to analyze the tournament very critically. We tried everything with the squad that was available to us," he said.
His team would have needed a little football miracle to progress anyway. But there was no need to look at the parallel game with hopes of Israel winning against the Czech Republic early on. Sports director Rudi Völler had to watch from the stands as the overwhelmed German defense was time and again outplayed by the quick English side.
Di Salvo brought in three new players, including central defender Marton Dardai from Hertha BSC. But the newly formed defensive didn't work at all. England's B-Elf with a total of eight new players whirled at will. The Young Lions had already secured their place in the quarter-finals and first place in the group before kick-off.
And then Di Salvo was also forced to rebuild his previously half-functioning right side. Josha Vagnoman, who has senior national team experience, hobbled off the field after just under 15 minutes. Just as the German team seemed to be catching up and played bolder forward, the English struck again. Liverpool's Elliott ran away from the entire German defense and executed coldly. Captain Yann Aurel Bisseck prevented even worse twice in dire need (26th/33rd)
Up front, 18-year-old Nelson Weiper from FSV Mainz 05, who was in the starting XI for the first time, struggled, but the Di Salvo team was not really compelling. The 44-year-old spread his arms helplessly on the sidelines. In the storm center, the coach was again missing striker Youssoufa Moukoko. The 18-year-old had to sit out again due to muscular problems after his disappointing debut at the European Championship and the racist insults directed at him.
The best news for the German team was the result. Even after the change of sides, England had chances for more goals, even if the youngsters of the European runners-up shifted down a gear. In Germany, on the other hand, little or nothing continued to come together. The game rippled towards the end. The hope of the miracle had long since given way to disillusionment in the German team.