Portugal Underestimated in European under-21’s

portugal u21

The UEFA European under-21 Championship is underway in the Czech Republic, with eight teams competing for the international trophy. England began their campaign with a 1-0 reverse to Portugal, and they face Sweden in what has become a must-win match on Sunday. The Portuguese take on Italy, who also suffered defeat in the first game, going down 2-1 to 10-man Sweden.

In the other group Czech Republic were beaten 2-1 by Denmark in the tournament opener, while Serbia and competition favourites, Germany, shared a 1-1 draw. The hosts face Serbia in the next round of matches, with Germany set to take on Denmark. The two teams that really stand out at the prices are Portugal and Serbia, while England can also be given another chance when they meet Sweden.

Saturday 20th June

Group A will get the weekend proceedings underway on Saturday, with Serbia and the Czech Republic to kick off first, followed by Germany and Denmark later in the evening. The Danes lead the way with three points after their come-from-behind victory against the hosts, while Germany and Serbia have a point apiece after they finished all square.

Serbia U21 v Czech Republic U21 5:00pm

The Czech Republic have much work to do to qualify after that opening match reverse. Denmark were considered their best chance of getting three points, and they have tough games to come versus Germany and Serbia. The Germans are the favourites to take the entire competition, while Serbia are many people’s dark horse this year due to the abundance of young talent in the their squad. Here are the current odds for the match:

Serbia –  +150  with William Hill

Czech Republic –  +210  with Totesport, Betfred and Betfair

Draw –  +240  with Totesport, Betfred and Betfair

At first glance Serbia look massively overpriced, and one suspects that the bookmakers are paying too much heed to the Czech’s home advantage. It all started so well for the Czech’s after taking a 35th minute lead against Denmark, but a much improved second half display from the Danes saw them fashion two goals to leave the hosts pointless.

They qualified for the competition automatically as hosts, while the other seven teams had to go through a grueling qualification campaign and a two-legged play-off to get here. Serbia knocked out the current holders, Spain, in that play-off, bringing to an end a 35-match unbeaten Spanish run. They held Germany to a 1-1 draw in their first match, taking the lead in the 8th minute, only to be pegged back in the 17th. Germany had a man sent off with 20 minutes to go, and the game petered out into a stalemate. That was an excellent start for the Serbs in their toughest group match, and victory here would see them in a great position to qualify as one of the top two in the group.

Germany U21 v Denmark U21 7:45pm

Germany need to get their tournament up and running after what they will see as a disappointing result against Serbia. Denmark are a solid organized side though, and have put themselves in a great position after grabbing three points from the Czech Republic.

Germany –  -133  with William Hill, Totesport and Betfred

Denmark –  +400  with LadbrokesWilliam Hill and Betfair

Draw –  +300  with Betfair

Although Germany are fancied to win this, they are short enough at the odds and one is inclined to leave this game alone.

Sunday 21st June

Group B matches are set for Sunday, and England have it all to do after the 1-0 reverse to Portugal.

Sweden U21 v England U21 5:00pm

Sweden –  +375  with Paddy Power and Skybet

England –  -115  with Boylesports

Draw –  +275  with Ladbrokes

They are worth giving another chance though, against a Sweden side who should be less defensively sound that the Portuguese. England started with Harry Kane and Danny Ings up front, who have both had excellent seasons in the Premier League, with Kane winning PFA Young Player of the Year and Ings’ form earning him a summer move to Liverpool. The under-21’s have been superb under Gareth Southgate, winning 15 of 17 competitive matches prior to the tournament, and they will not want to go out without a fight.

Sweden pulled of something of a shock against Italy in their opening game, winning 2-1 despite playing the majority of the match with ten men. Milosevic was sent off after 27 minutes and Italy scored from the resulting penalty to make it 1-0. However, the ten men fought back and having equalized in the 56th minute, Italy’s Sturaro was sent off with ten minutes left. This was the only invitation the Swedes needed and they secured a penalty of their own in the 86th minute to win the match.

This will be a great game to watch, and England are often best when their backs are against the wall. They are taken to come out firing and take control of the game.

Italy U21 v Portugal U21 7:45pm

The other side that stands out immensely at the odds is Portugal. They had an excellent record in qualification, and beat England 1-0 in the opener to sit top of the group with three points. Italy are pointless after their opening game defeat, and the pressure is on them to win this game. Unlike England, this may play against the Italians and the more they push on, the more the canny Portuguese will hit them on the break.

Italy –  +230  with BoylesportsUnibet and 888Sport

Portugal –  +145  with Betfair

Draw –  +230  with Ladbrokes

Portugal could effectively tie up qualification with a win here, and that fact will not be lost on the coach who would relish the opportunity to rest players for the final group game against Sweden. Italy have some good quality in their ranks, but as they showed against Sweden, they can be vulnerable at the back. Portugal are a top class side at this level, and they will exploit any Italian weakness.

Tips Summary

UEFA European under-21 Matches, Saturday 20th June: 

Serbia –  +150  with William Hill

Sunday 21st June:

England –  -115  with Boylesports

Portugal –  +145  with Betfair

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