Coach Antonio Di Salvo breathed a sigh of relief and hugged his players with a smile. Germany’s U21 national team is back on track in the European Championship qualification and has regained the lead in the table with a convincing performance.

Four days after the disappointing 0-0 draw against Kosovo, the German team showed a strong reaction against Israel in Halle/Saale and deservedly won 2-0 (1-0). Brajan Gruda from Mainz (14th minute) and Merlin Röhl from Freiburg (56th) scored in front of 4,766 spectators for the selection of the German Football Association.

“Winning 2-0 is a good reaction. You could see, especially in the first half, that we really wanted to win today,” said goalscorer Gruda at ProSieben Maxx and announced: “We’re turning on the music now the cabin, let’s have a nice party first.”

Blunder from Poland

Thanks to the previous mistake by rival Poland, which lost 1-0 to Bulgaria, Germany returned to the top of the qualifying group. This means the team goes into the qualifying break with one point ahead and one game less. The catch-up game in Israel and Estonia continues in September. The nine group winners and the three best runners-up will directly win their ticket to the 2025 tournament in Slovakia.

Dispirited and too waiting – after the game against Kosovo, Di Salvo criticized his team in clear words. That had an effect: the German team was immediately there and played powerfully to take the lead. Nick Woltemade, who was new to the team from Bremen, failed twice (1st/9th), after a nice combination via Woltemade and Rocco Reitz, Gruda then scored. Di Salvo celebrated with a raised fist on the sidelines.

The first leg in Israel in October had to be postponed because of the Gaza war. The Israelis, who had already made it into the top three with this team at the U19 European Championships and the U20 World Cup, have not yet collected a point in this European Championship qualification. “Maybe the surroundings also play a role,” Di Salvo had speculated before the game. The negative series also continued against the DFB team – but also because the German team didn’t allow much.

Although the hosts made some mistakes during the game, Israel was unable to capitalize on them. Especially immediately after the break, Di Salvo’s team didn’t have a good phase and played far too passively. Right in the middle of the Israelis’ offensive efforts, Röhl was able to score the second goal. The Israeli keeper deflected a strong long-range shot from Gruda onto the post, and Röhl made the save. Afterwards, the DFB selection didn’t have much trouble defending their lead.