DFB offspring: balance sheet from Germany's U21 coach Antonio Di Salvo – sport


Antonio Di Salvo is currently looking for the 2000, 2001 and 2002 vintages. However, wine dealers cannot help him with this problem. Di Salvo is U21 national coach, next year is the European Championship and at any time and anywhere a talented candidate from the right age group could unexpectedly be found. When the 42-year-old recently watched the European Women's Championship, he noticed that the outstanding midfielder Lena Oberdorf was also only born in 2001. "Wouldn't Obi also be eligible to play for us?" he joked with Joti Chatzialexiou, head of national teams at the German Football Association.

Unfortunately, Oberdorf is out of the question for Di Salvo's U21s, and that's not only due to obvious reasons, but also because she's already established in the senior national team. Similar to how it is with Jamal Musiala. He's been playing with Hansi Flick in the A-Team for a long time. Di Salvo is happy for every player who makes it to Flick. He also takes it with composure that he has lured central defender Armel Bella Kotchap away from him for the time being.

The 2024 Olympics is a big goal - but a lot is still unpredictable

Di Salvo has now been in office for a year. The U21s played eight qualifiers for the 2023 European Championship under the Paderborn native, winning seven and losing one. The essential goal of qualifying for the European Championship has been achieved. "We played a good and confident qualification," he says and is happy that he has been able to manage the sporting estate of the equally popular and successful predecessor Stefan Kuntz so well.

Kuntz, now Turkish national coach, had led the U21s to the European Championship final three times in a row and even to the title in 2017 and 2021. These successes mean a difficult legacy for Di Salvo. The European Championships next June in Romania and Georgia will show how well he really manages this task with the U21s. Then it's not just about the European Championship title, but also about qualifying for the 2024 Olympic football tournament in Paris. For this purpose you would have to make it to the EM semi-finals. In 2016, the German Olympic team won silver under coach Horst Hrubesch, and in 2020 they were eliminated in the preliminary round under Kuntz. "The Olympics are a big goal," says Di Salvo.

In terms of personnel, there are still some imponderables nine months before the start of the European Championship. As mentioned, Musiala (FC Bayern) and Bella Kotchap (FC Southampton) are with Flick, Jonathan Burkardt (Mainz), Kevin Schade (Freiburg) and Josha Vagnoman (Stuttgart) currently have to be rested and were not called up, the nominated Luca Netz (Gladbach ), Malick Thiaw (AC Milan), Jamie Leweling (Union Berlin) and Angelo Stiller (Hoffenheim), on the other hand, are currently barely playing at their clubs. "Such phases are quite normal for young players," said Di Salvo, "they have to work hard and learn from their older teammates - under no circumstances should they stick their heads in the sand."

With goalkeeper Christian Früchtl (Austria Vienna), defenders Maximilian Bauer (Augsburg) and Yann-Aurel Bisseck (Arhus/DEN), midfielder Tom Krauß (Schalke) and attackers Ansgar Knauff (Frankfurt) and Jan Thielmann (Cologne). currently six U21 nominees are regular players at their clubs. They get the level of match practice that Di Salvo would ideally like for each of his internationals.

Talent Moukoko is also said to be in the starting XI against France and England

A diamond in the U21 team is Youssoufa Moukoko, who will only be 18 next November and although he only gets part-time appearances at Borussia Dortmund, he is already approaching the level of the Bundesliga and Champions League. Moukoko is likely to be in the starting XI when the Under-21s play France in Magdeburg on Friday night and England in Sheffield next Tuesday for friendly purposes against two teams who have also qualified for the European Championship. "We're measuring ourselves against the best," says Di Salvo about preparing for the European Championship.

Stefan Kuntz's long-standing assistant coach is satisfied with his first year, but not overly enthusiastic. Against Israel in the first game, they turned a deficit into victory only in added time, against Poland it was a 0:4 smack in Aspach. "We have to continue to stabilize the defense and become even more dangerous on the offensive," he says. In the last five qualifiers combined, all of which have been won, the team have conceded just one goal. But the quality of the opposing attackers will increase by leaps and bounds at the European Championship.

"We have drawn a positive balance of the ten European Championship qualifiers," says Di Salvo. It is now the crucial second year for this year, and it is important to stabilize at a high level in all areas. This second year will also be the year of truth for him as national coach.



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