European Under-21 Championship Preview

England are looking to continue their good form at youth level by securing their first European Under-21 crown for over 30 years.

England’s Under-21s have not lifted this title since 1984 – but this summer has already seen the Young Lions show up well, with success at the Toulon Tournament and the Under-20 World Cup.

There are 12 teams competing in Poland, with the tournament made up of 3 groups of 4. The three group winners will make it through to the semi-finals along with the best ranking runner-up.

Aidy Boothroyd’s squad are looking make it through to the latter stages, although they look to have a difficult task on their hands in Group A.

As well as hosts Poland, England also face Slovakia and defending champions Sweden.

Group B has Iberian rivals Spain and Portugal, along with tournament outsiders Macedonia and Serbia.

In Group C, tournament favourites Germany take on Italy, Denmark and Czech Republic.

Our Football Insider Graeme Bailey gave us his view on the tournament.

“I can’t see England winning this, not that the squad isn’t good enough but because Aidy Boothroyd might be lacking at this level, he should not be in charge of this age group.

“However, the likes of Nathan Redmond and Callum Chambers give them an excellent back-bone.

“Elsewhere, Germany are favourites and it is hard to argue that point – but for me it will be Portugal or Spain who come out on top, some high quality on show with them.”

We spoke to BetVictor’s Michael Triffitt to get his view on the tournament.

“Germany can often be found at the head of a betting list for most International events at any level and true to form they are 10/3 favourites for the U21 European Championship that’s starts in Poland this Friday.

“However they have drifted from 3/1 and have been relatively friendless in the ante post betting pre-tournament. Despite an impressive qualifying campaign the Germans have been hit with key withdrawals. The Senior team are taking an experimental squad to the Confederations Cup with some of the youngsters involved and Manchester City star Leroy Sane is still injured.

“I like the look of Italy despite them been housed in group C alongside Germany. The Italians have been well backed into 6/1 from an opening 8/1 to take the title and their squad has been boosted by the inclusion of several players from the senior ranks. They too enjoyed a good qualifying and seem intent on making this event a priority and at 6/1 rate a sporting wager.

“England will always attract patriotic support and not surprisingly are our worst result. Buoyed by the success of the U20 squad winning the recent World Cup last weekend, The Three Lions are 8/1 but the squad doesn’t look strong enough in all honesty. With Marcus Rashford missing out the forward line has an experimental feel with the pressure on Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham. He had a great season with Bristol City in the Championship but fell away towards the end of a long campaign and the other forwards don’t appear to have the class to support him . The side will be sprinkled with quality but a lack of depth means I will be very surprised to see England in the winners enclosure.”

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