Germany take on Spain in the European U21 Championship final on Friday – we pick out five players to keep an eye out on in Krakow.
Both countries have lit up the tournament on their way to the final at the Jozef Pilsudski Stadium, live on Sky Sports 1 HD.
Germany overcame England 4-3 on penalties in their semi-final on Tuesday after the clash had ended 2-2, while, later that day, Spain overcame Italy, winning 3-1 in their last four encounter.
And both teams currently have some of the most exciting and sought-after young players in Europe within their ranks, including these star performers…
After his man-of-the-match performance in Spain’s semi-final win against Italy in midweek, the Atletico Madrid midfielder must surely now be regarded as one of the players of the tournament.
The 22-year-old scored in wins over Macedonia and Portugal that saw Albert Celades’s side top the group, before his stunning hat-trick helped see off the Azzurri on Tuesday.
In fact, Saul’s second strike in Krakow could very well end up being the standout goal of the whole competition as he rifled an unstoppable 30-yard effort into the top corner.
“As a robust and deceptive athlete who played 53 times for Atletico Madrid this season, including scoring four goals in 12 Champions League games, his superiority has been easy to identify,” said recruitment specialist Rob Mackenzie of the player.
“His quality in possession, coupled with his composure and class when placed under pressure or when finding himself in promising positions, has set him apart.”
Max Meyer (Germany)
Despite still only being 21 years of age, the midfielder has already racked up considerable experience in his career to date, making over 150 appearances for Schalke, featuring prominently for Germany at all age groups, including for the senior team.
Meyer was the star and captain of the Germany side that won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and he is no less influential under Kuntz.
In Germany’s 4-2-3-1 formation, Meyer is given creative licence to roam across the pitch and occupy pockets of space around the penalty area from his central attacking position.
The attacking midfielder did that to great effect in Germany’s Group C opener against the Czech Republic, scoring the first goal of the game by drifting in and shooting from the left flank, before laying on a goal in the 3-0 win against Denmark.
“His versatility across the front line as well as his positivity in possession will have caught the eye,” said Mackenzie.
Marco Asensio (Spain)
Surely the next big thing to come off the Spanish production line, if not already, the forward has enjoyed an outstanding tournament to date.
However, that may not be too surprising given the highly regarded Spaniard has just enjoyed an impressive breakthrough campaign at Real Madrid, scoring 10 times and contributing four assists as well in 38 matches in all competitions.
In Poland, the 21-year-old – who came off the bench to score Real’s final goal in their Champions League final win against Juventus in June – has been one of his side’s best performers en route to the final.
Asensio even recorded a memorable hat-trick in Spain’s opening group-stage rout of Macedonia, including an outrageous overhead that will live long in the memory.
“His poise in possession – as well as his technique – make him one of the competition’s standout performers,” was Mackenzie’s assessment of the youngster.
Marc-Oliver Kempf (Germany)
The Freiburg centre-back has excelled so far at the heart of his country’s back line, while being a constant danger from set pieces, as demonstrated in their victory against Denmark in the group stage.
However, the 22-year-old – who only made his debut for the U21s this year – has also shown in Poland that he is at ease with the ball at his feet, and he may need to continue bringing the ball out from defence against Spain.
As a result, Mackenzie believes a number of Premier League clubs will have been monitoring the German during the tournament.
“Despite injuries in recent seasons, the fact that he played the last 13 Bundesliga games consecutively for a Freiburg side who over-achieved will not have been lost on scouts and recruitment analysis departments within the Premier League and beyond,” he told Sky Sports.
Sandro Ramirez (Spain)
Everton’s potential new signing has led the line well for his country so far in Poland and they will be looking to him again for goals on Friday evening.
The Malaga striker, who is set to move to Goodison Park this summer, according to Sky sources, swept home Gerard Deulofeu’s cross to put his side 2-0 ahead against Portugal in the group phase.
With 16 goals and five assists to his name in just 31 games in all competitions for Malaga last season, the German defence will need to keep close tabs on 22-year-old in Krakow.Soccer Accumulator Bonus
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