- Spain win UEFA Under-21 Championship Italy 2019
- La Rojita secure place in next year’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament
- Germany, France and Romania join Spain as Europe’s participants at Tokyo 2020
After 21 matches and 78 goals, Europe has its U-21 champion and its four qualified teams for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020.
Spain will be competing at Tokyo 2020 as European champions after they defeated 2017 European champions Germany 2-1 in the final in Udine.
Goals from the standout Fabian Ruiz, who scored two goals and provided three assists during the tournament, and forward Dani Olmo were enough to outlast a late Germany surge which included a deflected, long-range Nadiem Amiri strike in a final that was a repeat of the 2017 edition, when Germany beat Spain 1-0 in Krakow, Poland.
The qualified teams
Spain: Spain were the first team at UEFA EURO U-21 to confirm their place at Tokyo 2020 after a 5-0 rout of Poland on the final matchday in the group stage, which sealed their semi-final spot. Spain will be returning to the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament for the first time since London 2012, and they have one gold medal in their history in the competition, when they were hosts in 1992.
Germany: Rio 2016 runners-up Germany will have the chance to go one step further and compete for the gold after they finished atop Group B. Tokyo 2020 will be the nation’s second consecutive Men’s Olympic Football Tournament appearance following a nearly 20-year drought of participation in the finals competition.
Romania: Romania ended the longest drought of Olympic participation of the four teams qualified for Tokyo 2020 as they will be competing in the tournament for the first time since 1964, which coincidentally also took place in Japan. Led by midfielder Ianis Hagi, son of the great Gheorghe Hagi, and Silver Boot winner George Puscas, Romania finished top of Group C with a superior goal difference to fellow Tokyo 2020 qualifiers France.
France: Gold medallists in 1984, France will be returning to the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament for the first time since Atlanta 1996. Two late goals in a 2-1 win over England in their first group stage match were key in giving France the momentum they needed to ultimately qualify for Tokyo 2020. Moussa Dembele’s lone strike against Croatia in a 1-0 victory before a goalless draw with Romania proved enough for Les Bleus to return to the Olympic stage for the first time in 24 years.
Spain equalled Italy’s record of five UEFA U-21 championships with their 2019 triumph and they have broken the record of final appearances in the competition with eight.
What they said
“That’s our feeling, we’ve accomplished a dream and a goal that we set a long time ago. I’ve been at the helm of this national team for one year and we’re very satisfied of course, of having reached a goal that we set so long ago.”
Spain head coach Luis de la Fuente, speaking with UEFA TV
“I think lifting a trophy is the most important thing a Spanish player can achieve. For me, it’s even more important, because it’s the first trophy in my professional career. This is something I’ll always remember because it was the first one and it was with the national team, and I’m extremely happy. I’m also happy about [being named player of the tournament], because it’s good at the end of the day, but I think the most important one was the team’s prize, being crowned European champions. Of course, winning both is even better.”
Spain midfielder Fabian Ruiz, who was voted player of the tournament, speaking with UEFA TV
Player of the Tournament: Fabian Ruiz (ESP)
Top scorer: Luca Waldschmidt (GER)
Goal of the Tournament: Luca Waldschmidt (GER)