Marco Richter, Germany Beat Denmark 3-1 at 2019 U21 European Championship

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJune 17, 2019

UDINE, ITALY - JUNE 17:  Marco Richter of Germany  celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the 2019 UEFA U-21 Group B match between Germany and Denmark at Stadio Friuli on June 17, 2019 in Udine, Italy.  (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Marco Richter netted a brace as Germany began their defence of the UEFA Under-21 Euro crown with a 3-1 win over Denmark at the Dacia Arena in Udine, Italy, on Monday.  

Richter's first saw the reigning champions lead 1-0 at the break, but Germany came alive in the second half and Luca Waldschmidt also got on the scoresheet to complete an encouraging opening result.

Robert Skov pulled one back from the penalty spot after Timo Baumgartl gave away a penalty for blocking a cross with his arm.

Austria defeated 10-man Serbia 2-0 earlier Monday to take an initial lead in Group B after Hannes Wolf and Sascha Horvath provided their goals.

Germany have brought one of the most talented squads to Italy and boast three players with senior international caps. They also went undefeated in 12 matches prior to this tournament and have failed to win just three of their last 25 Under-21 Euro matches (including qualifiers).

But coach Stefan Kuntz's side were slow to get off the mark and showed some hesitation in the final third, though neither team showed much endeavour to attack during some dull opening exchanges.

Mainz midfielder Levin Oztunali almost crafted the breakthrough for Germany after 20 minutes when he fashioned space down the right, but 21-year-old Richter was unable to steer his cut-back on target.

He made up for that miss less than 10 minutes later, hwith what looked an even more difficult chance. Werder Bremen anchor Maximilian Eggestein stood the ball up inside Denmark's box and passed back to Richter, who fizzed a left-footed strike inside the far post. 

The youngster was highly active in the Danish half and impressed despite the fact he had less Bundesliga experience than any other outfielder in the Germany XI, per DW Sports:

The game went through a lull after the opening strike, but Freiburg attacker Waldschmidt nearly sparked Germany into a 2-0 lead with his long-range effort from out of the blue.

Oldham Athletic goalkeeper Daniel Iversen was equal to the threat and did tremendously to get up and deny the brilliant effort, just about keeping the Danes within one goal.

The German defence was guilty of several cynical fouls that suggested their desperation to not concede, and it worked in stopping several promising Danish attacks as Germany led by one at the break.

Skov almost punished some lax German defending barely one minute into the second half, getting on the end of a looped ball over to coax the first great save out of Alexander Nubel.

But near misses count for nought. It was only a few minutes later when Richter pressured Danish defender Mads Valentin into a poor back-pass that resulted in a confident one-on-one finish for the German:

Clearly not content just with finishing the goals, Richter then applied the pressure again to combine a tackle into an assist for Waldschmidt.

He was put through clean on goal and chipped in calmly as Richter sat on the halfway line watching, and Goal's Ronan Murphy suggested his form could attract attention this summer:

Kuntz withdrew Richter with a little more than 20 minutes remaining, presumably in a bid to preserve arguably his in-form attacker for the upcoming clash with Serbia.

It proved a poor omen for Germany as Baumgartl gave away the spot-kick not long after. He had little argument against the penalty call after clumsily sliding in with his arms raised high, and Danish star Skov stepped up to dispatch.

Germany will consider this win a great pressure off their back as they looked as good as one might expect, though there's a long way to go before they successfully defend the Under-21 Euro crown for a first time.

      

What's Next?

Germany and Denmark return to action in Group B on Thursday when they'll face Serbia and Austria, respectively.

        

This article will be updated to provide more information soon.

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