Waldschmidt targets record as Germany meet Spain in Euro U21 final
Udine (Italy) (AFP) –
Germany star Luca Waldschmidt will be looking to set a new goal-scoring record as the defending champions take on Spain in Sunday's final of the European under-21 championships in Udine.
Waldschmidt has scored seven goals so far in the tournament and one more would see him overtake Swede Marcus Berg's record achieved in 2009 for the most scored at the continental championships.
"What matters more is the title," insisted Walschmidt, who has emerged as one of the stars of the tournament which also doubled as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympics.
It is estimated that the 23-year-old's value has tripled from the five million euros ($5.7 million) paid last summer by Bundesliga club Freiburg, where he scored nine goals in his first season.
But the Vespa-loving player whose full name is actually the Italian 'Gian Luca' has come into his own in Italy.
Waldschmidt scored a hat-trick against Serbia in the group stage and a brace against Romania in the semi-finals.
Coach Stefan Kuntz insisted however there was more to his team than Waldschmidt.
"(Waldschmidt) had a great performance, but I don't want to single out one of my players," said Kuntz after the semi-finals in Bologna.
"It's the group that's important, even those who didn't play a minute are also important for the team spirit."
- Ceballos powers Spain -
Waldschmidt conceded he was feeling more at ease ahead of Sunday's match in the north-eastern town of Udine which will be a repeat of the title showdown two years ago.
"When you come from behind in a semi-final against such a good side it gives you confidence," he said ahead of Germany's bid for a third continental title.
Spain last lifted the trophy in 2013 and are bidding to match Italy's record of five European titles.
The 'Rojita' have their own star in Real Madrid midfield maestro Dani Ceballos, among the stand-out players in Spain's run to the final as he was in Poland two years ago.
Ceballos, 22, has scored two goals and provided two assists so far, with the Spanish sweeping past France 4-1 in the semi-finals.
"This team is getting better with every match," said coach Luis De la Fuente, whose side had started the tournament with a defeat by Italy.
"I have a team that is growing, which is capable of overcoming difficult moments.
"The defeat against Italy made us stronger. I don't think my players are yet at their maximum."
Temperatures in Udine should be slightly cooler than during the semi-finals with forecasts of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) for the town on the border with Slovenia.
? 2019 AFP