Coach Antonio di Salvo, frustrated, crept up to his colleague with his hands in his trouser pockets; the players stood and sat perplexed on the pitch. The German U21 national team made its first small slip-up in the European Championship qualification. Against outsiders Kosovo, Di Salvo’s team couldn’t get past a 0-0 draw in front of 6,899 spectators in Chemnitz.

“That hurts a lot,” said Di Salvo on the ProSieben Maxx broadcaster: “We certainly imagined something completely different. We wanted to start the year with a win, that’s very bitter.”

The team around BVB striker Youssoufa Moukoko was superior against deep-lying guests, but did not score a goal. After four wins from the first four games, the DFB team was unable to further extend its perfect record. The 2017 and 2021 European champions remain in second place behind Poland.

The league leaders have two points more, but also played one more game. Only the group winner is guaranteed to qualify for next year’s tournament in Slovakia. The U21 continues on Tuesday in Halle/Saale against Israel.

“We just tried to complicate it too much”

The guests concentrated almost exclusively on defense with a compact five-man chain. Accordingly, the German team found it difficult to get dangerously in front of the goal. “We simply tried to complicate things too much, we simply didn’t create enough chances to score,” said Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Rocco Reitz.

Far too often it went through the middle and the passes were often too imprecise. However, goalkeeper Jonas Urbig, who represented Freiburg’s Noah Atubolu, only had to intervene a few times when the Kosovars’ inaccurate long balls were thrown.

Di Salvo also had to restructure his defense in the middle of the first half. Colin Kleine-Bekel from Kiel twisted his knee in a duel and Jamil Siebert came on for him (31st). At least in a few cases the German team got into final positions – but the guests saved the 0-0 against Merlin Röhl (30th) and Ansgar Knauff (32nd). Attacker Maximilian Beier from TSG Hoffenheim, who was nominated for the senior national team for the first time by national coach Julian Nagelsmann, was also sorely missed.

Moukoko and Woltemade miss the best chances

In the second half, the hosts played much more powerfully, Moukoko missed their best chance to date (48′). Germany was also close to taking the lead with attempts by Siebert (57′), Röhl (59′) and again Moukoko (64′).

Di Salvo brought in two fresh offensive players in the middle of the half and, among other things, took the hapless Moukoko off the pitch. That almost paid off, but substitute Nick Woltemade also failed to put the ball into the goal from close range (76′). Because the visitors’ keeper also parried against Röhl (79′), the score remained 0-0.