Germany’s U21 footballers enjoyed the cheers of the fans for a long time, coach Antonio Di Salvo high-fived with relief along with his coaching team.

A good two months after the botched European Championships, the youth team has made a promising start to the new season. Eric Martel, who was called up as captain for the first time, also found this after the 2-0 (0-0) in the friendly against Ukraine: “I have to say that we did really well,” said the Cologne native at “”. the game. Regarding the captain’s armband, he added: “It obviously makes me proud.”

The top priority was “that we stay compact defensively,” explained Martel. It took a while to get into the game, but we created good chances in the first half. “We rewarded ourselves in the second half. A good test for us.”

Di Salvo: “It’s important that there is zero”

Striker Maximilian Beier (52nd minute) from TSG Hoffenheim and Fürth Tim Lemperle (88th) scored the goals for the newly formed selection in front of 6,503 spectators in Saarbrücken. It was the first victory for the U21s in an official game in 2023 and the hoped-for little mood booster for German football.

“Of course I’m relieved,” admitted Di Salvo. “The team showed what we want to see.” The defensive part was particularly good. “It’s important that there’s a zero,” the coach noted, “things have to get better going forward.” Overall, “fighting spirit” and “greed” were right. “We couldn’t demand that many processes fit right now.” On Tuesday his team will be challenged in the first competitive game of the new season in the European Championship qualification in Kosovo.

Seven professionals from the starting XI celebrate their U21 debut

Compared to the disappointing European Championship, which ended with just one point from three games for Germany, there was a completely new team on the pitch. Seven professionals from the starting eleven made their U21 debut, only three players from the European Championship squad were still there. The hosts were initially aware of the ongoing discovery phase; there was no real flow in the game at the beginning with the temperature being almost 30 degrees and sunshine.

A lot of the work in the early stages was about individual actions; on the offensive, the U21 experienced Youssoufa Moukoko and Ansgar Knauff in particular had good scenes. It was also Frankfurt’s Knauff who missed the best chance of making it 1-0 with his header (43′).

Di Salvo made eight substitutions at the break, and shortly afterwards the next two newcomers came into the game. Nevertheless, the DFB youngsters continued to play bravely and were rewarded. Attacker Nick Woltemade from Werder Bremen claimed the ball strongly and had an eye for Beier, who stayed cool. “Strong pass, great finish,” praised Di Salvo. Shortly before the end, Lemperle dispelled the last doubts about victory.