Relive Germany's 2-0 win over Czech Republic as Max Meyer and Serge Gnabry ensure the Germans make a winning start to the Under-21 European Championships.
By Barney Corkhill, Assistant Editor Filed: Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 16:29 UK
Last Updated: Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 19:56 UK
Germany got their Under-21s European Championship campaign off to a winning start this afternoon courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Czech Republic.
Both sides struggled to create chances for much of the first half, but a goalkeeping error allowed Max Meyer to break the deadlock shortly before the interval.
Another defensive mistake proved costly for Czech Republic early in the second half too and Serge Gnabry took full advantage to double the lead.
Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of our minute-by-minute updates below.
4.30pmGood afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's clash between Germany and Czech Republic as Group C of the Under-21 European Championships gets underway. It is a difficult group with Germany and Denmark also in it, and victory or defeat today could prove pivotal in their hopes going forward. Before we take a closer look at both nations, though, let's first check out the team news.
4.36pmWhat can we make of those two teams, then? Well, there are a few familiar faces in the Germany starting XI, with five of their squad having already made appearances for the senior side. That includes former Arsenal man Serge Gnabry, who recently joined Bayern Munich, and captain Maximilian Arnold from Wolfsburg. Mahmoud Dahoud also starts for Stefan Kuntz's side in what looks like a very strong team for the Germans.
4.38pmThe Czech perhaps do not have as many recognisable names, but in striker Patrik Schick they have a player many regard to be one of the brightest at this tournament. The Sampdoria man has 10 goals in nine appearances for the Under-21 side and is thought to be close to sealing a switch to Serie A champions Juventus, although Paris Saint-Germain are also interested. He is certainly one to watch both today and throughout the tournament.
4.40pmIt is Germany who will go into this game as favourites to make a winning start, and many may be backing them to go all the way and lift the trophy this year. Considering their overall standing on the world stage it is somewhat surprising to see that Germany have only won this competition once, when a team including Mesut Ozil thrashed England 4-0 back in 2009. Indeed, that is the only time they have ever reached the final, so they will be hopeful of improving that record this summer.
4.42pmThe signs suggest that they are more than capable of doing exactly that, with Germany the only team to have gone through the qualifying campaign with a perfect 100% record of 10 wins from 10. In fairness, it wasn't the toughest of groups with Austria, Finland, Azerbaijan, Russia and the Faroe Islands to contend with, but Germany still had to get the job done and they did it in style.
4.44pmStefan Kuntz's side were also the top scorers throughout all of qualifying, finding the back of the net 35 times in their 10 outings - an average of 3.5 per game. There were a few teams with better defensive records, with Germany conceding eight times in those 10 games, and Kuntz will be keen to improve that aspect of the performances as a solid defence can be so important in tournaments like this where a defeat can be so damaging.
4.46pmDespite that formidable qualifying campaign, Germany don't actually come into this tournament in particularly great form. They have lost two of their last three games having won 13 on the bounce before then - stretching back to their semi-final exit at the 2015 edition of this tournament. Germany have now lost as many games in their last three outings as they had in their 25 prior to that, going down 1-0 at the hands of both Poland and Portugal. Another defeat today would make it back-to-back losses for the first time in over four years.
4.48pmThe last time Germany did lose two games in a row they crashed out of the Under-21 Euros in the group stages, and while they have lots of quality at their disposal in Poland they will face another tricky test to get through a difficult group. Denmark and Italy will face each other a little later on this evening, while Czech Republic will also be hopeful of finishing in the top two having disappointed on home soil two years ago.
4.50pmCzech Republic failed to make it out of the group stages in 2015, winning one, drawing one and losing one of their three games, but they do have a bit of history in the competition having lifted the trophy in 2002 with a team including Petr Cech. Czech Republic had also reached the final two years before that, but it has been a while since that generation of players and they will do well to pip some of Europe's footballing heavyweights to a place in the knockout rounds this time.
4.52pmVitezslav Lavicka's side did finish top of their qualifying group, though, losing just one of their 10 outings against the likes of Belgium, Montenegro, Malta, Latvia and Moldova. Only three teams - Germany, Portugal and Spain - scored more goals than Czech Republic in that time, so hopefully we will be in for a high-scoring treat today.
4.54pmAs with Germany, Czech Republic's form has dropped a little ahead of the tournament, losing twice in their last five games - as many defeats as they had suffered in their previous 19. However, they have bounced back a bit more recently, winning their last two outings against Slovakia and hosts Poland. Considering Poland beat Germany in November, that could make things very interesting today. Victory would make it three wins in a row for the first time since March 2016.
4.56pmPREDICTION: Right, it's almost time for kickoff in Tychy, which means that it is time for a prediction! This match, and indeed the whole group, should be fairly tight with all four teams having a genuine chance of reaching the next stage. Germany should have just enough about them to pull off the win though - I am going for 2-0!
4.58pmRight, the players are out and the anthems have been belted out by those inside the stadium - it looks as though there could be more Czechs than Germans - can they cheer their team onto victory?
1 minKICKOFF: Here we go! Czech Republic get the game underway and have an effort inside 20 seconds, but it is never troubling the keeper.
3 minGermany have an early chance to put Czech Republic under a bit of pressure with a free kick in a crossing position, but it is easy for the keeper to claim. That will be a settling early touch for Zima.
5 minCHANCE! The opening goal almost arrives for Germany as the ball is poked through for Gnabry down the left channel. The new Bayern man bundles through one challenge but then places his finish just wide of the far post.
7 minGermany have taken control of this one in the early stages. They are dominating possession and carry a threat almost every time they come forward too. It is still very early days, but it has been a good start from the Germans.
9 minImportant piece of defending from Stark as the ball breaks behind him and Schick threatens to latch on to it. Stark was alert to the danger, though, and took no risks by putting it out for a throw.
10 minGermany have the chance to break through Gnabry, who darts past his man in midfield to launch the counter. The winger has two white shirts in support over to his right, but instead he goes for a more optimistic pass out to his left and loses possession.
11 minSAVE! This time it is Meyer who perhaps takes the wrong option, going for goal instead of looking for support. He gets his shot on target, but it is fairly tame and straight at Zima, who gathers it up.
13 minThis game is yet to really get going. Germany have been the better team and had that chance for Gnabry, but on the whole it has been a fairly slow start to this one.
15 minThe possession stats have just popped up and I'm surprised to see that Czech Republic have had 53% of the ball. It feels as though Germany have a certain degree of control over the game, but it is Czech Republic who have actually seen more of the ball.
17 minGermany have given the ball away on quite a few occasions already, with a few in white shirts have begun this match quite sloppily. They need to improve in the final third especially.
18 minSelka gets a bit of luck with a bounce that sees him break down the left channel, but there are no teammates in the middle to get on the end of his subsequent cross. It was a teasing pass inside, but no-one was there to make the most of it.
20 minAlmost a chance for Czech Republic to break as Schick tries to play an incisive pass through for Cerny, but he doesn't put enough on it and that gives Germany the chance to get back and avoid the danger.
22 minThere is a really good atmosphere inside the stadium today, with plenty of fans in attendance too. There are barely any empty seats, which is great to see at this level.
24 minWe're halfway through the first half now and we've still only had the one shot on target - and that a rather tame one too. Not much to separate these two at the moment.
26 minBetter from Germany as they up the tempo during an attack down the right flank. Meyer is at the centre of it and the ball breaks to him inside the box, but his subsequent snapshot is blocked.
28 minOFF THE POST! Gnabry looks like the one who might make something happen here. He bursts into life down the left flank, using his electric pace to beat his man and break into the box. He smuggles his shot past the keeper too, but Zima got just enough on it to deflect it against the outside of the post.
30 minCHANCE! Another chance for Germany as Selke collects the ball on the left side of the area, but once again the finish is lacking as he drags his effort wide of the far post.
32 minGermany have just moved up a gear over the last few minutes, but Czech Republic win a free kick here and have their first real chance to test the German keeper...
33 minLuftner lines the free kick up, but his effort hits the wall before firing a follow-up volley well off target. A waste of a decent position.
35 minThere have been quite a few niggly fouls from both sides in this match so far, which has disrupted the rhythm of it a little - something which probably suits Czech Republic more than Germany.
37 minThe referee has so far kept his cards in his pocket, and rightly so as there haven't been any yellow card-worthy challenges. However, he must be beginning to think of producing one through the totting-up offence.
38 minSHOT! Dahoud is afforded space to shoot from range, but he fires his effort a long way over the crossbar. That moment of quality is really lacking in the final third at the moment.
40 minCrucial piece of defending from Simic as he recovers really well after being caught a little out of position. Selke is pulling the trigger, but Simic launches himself in the way of the ball.
42 minWe're inching towards half time now and in truth there can't be many complaints if these two sides go into the break at 0-0. Germany have looked the more like scoring, but it has been a fairly poor game from both sides regarding the attacking aspect.
44 minRight on the stroke of half time, Germany finally break the deadlock! Meyer collects a pass on the left flank and cuts inside, beating the defender all too easily when ducking onto his right foot. He then hits a low striker towards the far corner which sneaks under the goalkeeper's arm and in - Zima really should have saved that one.
45+1 minThere will be one minute of added time at the end of this first half.
5.56pmThe first half comes to an end, then, and in truth it was not the best 45 minutes of football you will ever see. Germany had the better chances and if anyone deserves to be ahead then it is them, but hopefully there will be a lot more quality on both sides in the second half.
5.58pmThe deadlock was finally broken right on the stroke of half time when Max Meyer cut inside and fired a low strike into the bottom corner, although it has to go down as a goalkeeping error as Zima allowed the ball to fizz underneath his arm. The keeper was there in time, but still couldn't keep it out.
6pmGermany had earlier hit the post through Gnabry, with Zima on that occasion getting just enough on the ball to divert it against the woodwork. Clear chances have been very few and far between, though, with Gnabry poking another one wide of the target earlier in the game.
6.02pmFrom Czech Republic's point of view there has been precious little to shout about going forward, with Pollersbeck in the German goal going throughout that first half without having to make a save. They must improve significantly in the second half if they are to get anything out of this game.
46 minKICKOFF: Germany get us back underway for the second half in Tychy!
47 minBright start to the half from Czech Republic as Travnik breaks forward down the left channel and suddenly finds himself in a very promising position. He has three players in support inside the area, but his subsequent ball into the box is poor and easily cut out by the keeper.
48 minCHANCE! Chance for Germany to double their advantage at the other end as the ball falls kindly for Weiser inside the area. He takes a touch to bring him into a shooting position before driving towards goal, but Zima pulls off a fine save to deny him.
50 minGermany have their second, and again it is a mistake which costs Czech Republic. Sacek appeared to have the situation under control when cutting out a ball towards Gnabry, but instead of just clearing his lines he tries to take the ball down inside his own area. His touch only sends the ball into the path of Gnabry, though, and the Bayern man accepts the gift by tucking away his finish.
51 minSHOT! Czech Republic look for an instant response, attacking straight from the kickoff. Jankto has a pop at goal too, but he drags it wide of the target.
52 minSAVE! Germany respond with an effort of their own as Stark lets fly from outside the area. It is a powerful low drive which is moving a bit, but the keeper gets down to make the save and the rebound is cleared behind for a corner.
53 minSAVE! Zima is called into action again here as Gnabry fires a volley towards goal, but this time it is a fairly routine stop for the Czech keeper.
55 minGermany don't seem to be settling for just two goals here. They are still applying the pressure and if they are able to get a third soon you feel it could end up being a bit of a rout. The next goal - if there is one - will be crucial.
56 minCZECH REPUBLIC SUB: The first change of the match comes from Czech Republic as Sevcik is replaced by Antonin Barak.
56 minSHOT! Germany up the tempo again as Dahoud and Gnabry combine to find Meyer, but the opening goalscorer curls his effort a few yards wide of the target.
57 minCHANCE! Big chance for Czech Republic to get themselves back into this match, and it falls to the one man they'd want too. Schick initially takes too long over the chance and sees his first shot blocked, but the loose ball falls back at his feet. He tries to place his finish into the top corner, but puts it just off target.
59 minCLOSE! Pollersbeck is a lucky man here! The German goalkeeper takes an age over clearing the ball, which gives Jankto the chance to close him down. The Czech Republic man dives in and blocks the clearance, but the ball bounces wide of the goal.
61 minSHOT! Germany hit back with another effort as Arnold puts his foot through an effort from the edge of the area, but he doesn't catch it perfectly and he skews it a few yards off target.
62 minSHOT! It is shots galore at the moment! Czech Republic go up the other end and Travnik tries his luck, but he is leaning back and puts his shot well over.
63 minCHANCE! Czech Republic are enjoying the best spell of the match since that second goal. They again almost pull one back here as a ball zips right across the face of goal, with a touch from Pollersbeck only diverting it to Jankto. He can't get much power behind his finish, though, and it is blocked by a defender just in front of the line.
64 minSHOT! Despite this response from Czech Republic, another Germany goal would kill this game off once and for all and Gnabry tries to get that goal but cutting inside from the left flank, but he slips at the vital moment and sends his effort wide.
66 minGERMANY SUB: Germany make their first change of the game as Dahoud is replaced by Gideon Jung.
68 minThis second half has been a lot more entertaining than the first, with both sides showing a bit more attacking intent. Time is beginning to run out for Czech Republic, though.
70 minCHANCE! Germany have the chance to wrap this game up as Weiser collects the ball in the area and tries a volley on the turn, but he gets under it and puts it over the crossbar.
72 minCZECH REPUBLIC SUB: Czech Republic make their second change of the afternoon, with Martin Hasek replacing Cerny.
74 minJust over 15 minutes remaining in this second half now, and Czech Republic probably need a goal sooner rather than later if they are to stand any chance of getting back into this match. They have been better in this second half, but have not been able to take their chances.
76 minGERMANY SUB: Another change for Germany as Weiser is replaced by Maximilian Philipp.
78 minGermany should have killed the game off here! They break from a set piece and have three on one, but Selke keeps hold of the ball for too long and when he eventually does play the pass towards Meyer it is behind him and the chance goes begging. That is a huge waste.
80 minChance for Czech Republic to give themselves some late hope here. They win a free kick in a very good position...
81 minSAVE! Schick takes on the free kick duties and gets his effort up and over the wall, but it lacks the power to really trouble the keeper.
82 minCZECH REPUBLIC SUB: Czech Republic make their third and final change of the match as Toma Chory replaces the injured Sacek.
83 minYELLOW CARD! The first card of the match arrives in the 83rd minute as Travnik goes into the book.
85 minZima was at fault for the first goal, but he pulls off a stunning penalty stop to maybe just about keep his side hanging on in this game. There isn't an awful lot wrong with Selke's penalty down low into the bottom corner, but Zima produces a fine save.
86 minGERMANY SUB: Germany make their third and final change of the match as Janik Haberer comes on in place of Arnold.
87 minCHANCE! Schick was brilliant in qualifying with 10 goals, but he has wasted a couple of really good chances today. He breaks into the penalty area here, latching on to a through-ball to leave himself with only the keeper to beat, but he puts his finish over the crossbar.
89 minYELLOW CARD! Jankto is the second name in the referee's notebook today.
90+1 minThere will be four minutes of added time at the end of this match.
90+3 minWe will have more than that stoppage time as Stark needs some treatment after a heavy landing.
7.08pmGermany get their Euro 2017 campaign off to a winning start, then, with goals from Meyer and Gnabry. It could have been even more convincing had Selke scored a late penalty, but they will take the three points and they deserve it too - they were the better team today. For Czech Republic, meanwhile, they know that they probably now need to win their next two games.
7.10pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's match as Germany get off to a winning start with victory over Czech Republic. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for more live coverage of Italy vs. Denmark, which will begin in around five minutes. From me, though, it is goodbye for now!