For a time it looked as if qualification for the knockout stages might be jeopardy for Stefan Kuntz's "Jungs".
Fortunately, substitute Jonathan Burkardt was able to set up Lukas Nmecha for the lead striker's second goal of the tournament and a late equalizer against Holland.
The German U21s now find themselves with on the doorstep of the quarterfinals with one group stage match left.
Stefan Kuntz made two changes to the XI that dispatched Hungary 3-0 on Wednesday. Young Mainz prospect, questionable prior to the match due to abductor problems, took a seat. Köln's Salih Özcan started in his place. Özcan's cathedral city teammate Ismail Jakobs also took the place of Greuther Fürth's David Raum.
Kuntz's formation appeared deliberately stretched to give Jakobs and Ridle Baku extra space on the flanks. A three man backline was immediately discernible. Nico Schlotterbeck, Amos Pieper, and Joshua Vagnoman remained back while Arne Maier and Niklas Dorsch moved up and slightly further apart.
This more offensively minded 3-4-3 encountered significant difficulty against a Dutch 5-2-3. The attacking engine never really got going during the first half, during which a series of injury timeouts for the Dutch squad also adversely affected the flow. Finn Dahmen, the surprise choice third-string keeper whom Kuntz placed his trust in, allowed the Oranje to open the scoring shortly after the restart.
The 23-year-old took a poor touch on a handle and unfortunately gifted RB Leipzig's Justin Kluivert a wide open shot at goal. Kluivert made no mistake in slotting home a 48th minute finish. The German "Jungs" didn't lack determination in mounting a response, rather precision passing necessary to generate quality scoring chances . Arne Maier tried some trickery, but the team didn't get their first legitimate opportunity until a Schlotterbeck header in the 77th.
One minute later, Kuntz employed his first changes of the match with a double substitution. Raum and Mateo Klimowicz relieved Jakobs and Özcan. The DFB-XI kept the pressure up and rarely allowed the Dutch on the ball. An Amos Pieper effort in the 81st forced Dutch keeper Kjell Scherpen into an acrobatic save. The scoreline nevertheless held with time ticking away fast.
The lightly injured Burkardt ended up proving the hero after all. Within a minute of being subbed on the 83rd, the Mainzer toasted Dutch defender Sven Botman and serviced lead striker Lukas Nmecha perfectly for the late equalizer. The Romanian U21s the Hungarians 2-1 in the group's other kickoff. Germany now sit atop the group, tied with Romania on goal difference but ahead on goal differential.
The group's two team teams meet in the final group stage game on Tuesday. Kuntz's youngsters need only to draw to reach the quarterfinals.
|15||Ismail Jakobs ↩77|
|8||Arne Maier (C) ↩82|
|21||Ridle Baku ↩89|
|11||Mërgim Berisha ↩82|
|13||Salih Özcan ↩77|
|10||Lukas Nmecha ⚽|
|9||Jonathan Burkardt ↪82|
|3||David Raum ↪77|
|17||Anton Stach ↪82|
|20||Vitaly Janelt ↪89|
|22||Mateo Klimowicz ↪77|
|8||Teun Koopmeiners (C)|
|11||Noa Lang ↩22|
|7||Justin Kluivert ⚽ ↩78|
|10||Dani de Wit ↩88|
|19||Brian Brobbey ↪88|
|21||Javairô Dilrosun ↪78|
|6||Ferdi Kadıoğlu ↪22|