Germany U-21 head coach Stefan Kuntz has announced the 24-man squad for the upcoming U-21 European Championship qualification matches against Moldova (3rd September at 18:15 CEST at BRITA-Arena) and Belgium (8th September at 16:00 CEST in Leuven). Ismael Jakobs (1. FC Köln), Maxim Leitsch (VfL Bochum), Florian Krüger (Erzgebirge Aue), Florian Wirtz (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Jonathan Burkardt (FSV Mainz 05), Linton Maina (Hannover 96) and Dominik Kother (Karlsruher SC) have made the squad for the first time, and along with Eike Bansen (FC Zulte Waregem) and Amos Pieper (Arminia Bielefeld), could make their U21 debuts.
U-21 EURO finalist Arne Maier (Hertha BSC) has also returned the squad. Due to injury, Maier has not played for the team since the 2019 tournament in Italy and San Marino. After discussions with Niklas Dorsch and his new club, KAA Gent, Kuntz has left out the 22 year old to allow him to settle in under his new coach.
“Finally we can get going again,” said a pleased Stefan Kuntz. “After a ten-month break we’re all looking forward to the two upcoming games. Due to the delayed start of the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, these two qualification games are the first competitive games of the season. We will prepare the team in the few days we have and also integrate the new players as quickly as possible. The game against Belgium could be a decisive one for the table and we need a better performance than the 3-2 loss in the home game.”
On his squad selection, the head coach said: “Towards the end of the season a few ney players got a lot of minutes and came to the forefront of our attention. There are also players in the squad who we’ve been watching for a long time but for whatever reason weren’t called up in the past. We are excited to see what kind of impression the new players can make and are looking forward to their next steps with us.”
Gold Fritz Walter Medal winner Florian Wirtz could become the youngest Germany U-21 player, at just 17 years of age. “Florian is one of the most outstanding talents in Germany and has already played in the Bundesliga, Europa League and DFB-Pokal. After speaking with Joti Chatzialexiou and Meikel Schönweitz as well as Leverkusen we decided to invite him to the U21 level in order to push his development further.”
With two wins and a loss (6 points), Germany U21s are sitting in second place of the EURO Qualifying Group 9. Belgium top the group with 7 points from four games. The other sides in the group are Bosnia & Herzegovina and Wales.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the UEFA executive committee decided that the U21 European Championship would take place in two phases in Slovenia and Hungary in 2021. Between 24th and 31st March 2021, the group stage will take place, with 16 teams divided into four groups. The first and second-placed teams will qualify for the knockout round, which will take place between 31st May and 6th June 2021. The qualification stage will take place in September, October and November of 2020.