The Germany U21 squad’s win in penalties over England in the semifinals of the 2017 U21 European Championships will be a memorable one for the bunch, but it would not have been possible without the help of three of Schalke’s own. Thilo Kehrer, Max Meyer and Felix Platte all played pivotal roles in Die U21 Mannschaft’s victory.
Meyer saw his name in the starting XI once again prior to Tuesday’s tilt, while Kehrer and Platte came on as substitutes. Meyer earned a hockey assist on Germany’s first goal with a well-played lead pass to Jeremy Toljan who set up Davie Selke’s header past English keeper Jordan Pickford to open the scoring.
Platte came on to take over at striker for an injured Selke in the 63rd minute, marking his first appearance at the tournament. Just seven minutes later, Platte, who spent last season on loan at Darmstadt, notched his first career international goal on the biggest stage. The 21-year-old converted a beautiful top-shelf header via a Max Arnold corner kick to equalize at 2-2.
Platte struggled to score at Darmstadt for much of the 2016/17 season, but he was able to break through with two goals in The Lilies’ final five matches. With Franco Di Santo possibly out of the picture, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar off to Ajax and Breel Embolo coming off injury, Platte has a real chance to see heavy minutes this coming season up front.
Minutes later, Platte scored again… to everyone but the linesman. Although he was clearly onside, Platte’s goal – another header – would not count as the flag had (incorrectly) gone up.
Kehrer entered in the 80th minute for Gideon Jung, slotting in comfortably at his natural right-back position. Schalke’s young defender proved his worth from the minute he entered the pitch, limiting his mistakes, making a spectacular slide tackle toward the end of regular time and looking composed and confident on the ball. After a somewhat shaky end to his Bundesliga campaign, it’s great to see Kehrer perform so well in his debut in Poland.
Platte continued as a dangerous threat in the air through extra time while Kehrer remained solid at the back, but for the most part not much happened in the additional 30 minutes.
Schalke’s dream day continued in penalties though, as Meyer stepped up confidently as the fourth taker to give Germany a 3-2 lead in penalties. Germany went on to win the match 2-2 (4-3 pens) to advance to the tournament final on Friday versus Spain following keeper Julian Pollersbeck’s save on Nathan Redmond to clinch the win.
Schalke and new manager Domenico Tedesco must be pleased with promising youngsters in Kehrer and Platte gain this experience playing against the top rising stars in the world and making crucial contributions.
Meyer may be on his way out either this summer or next, however it’s satisfying for the club’s identity and brand to have a product like Meyer out of the Schalke youth system. For Kehrer and Platte, Tuesday’s match alone should give them plenty of confidence heading into camp and this season to become consistent first team players at Schalke as soon as this year.