England v Italy – Andruv stadion, Olomouc at 19:45 live on BT Sport 1
England face Italy this evening in Olomouc, their fifth meeting in the competition since 2000. In what is likely to be a match that decides second place, it’s a straight shoot-out between these two footballing nations.
England will qualify with a win, or a draw if Sweden fail to be Portugal in the other Group B match. If the Young Lions lose, they are out.
Italy can only qualify if they were to beat England and Sweden lose to Portugal. Their own fate may not be in their hands, but the Italians will give themselves every possibility to make the semi finals and look a good bet on the Asian Handicap betting market.
The Azzurri were significantly better against Portugal than they were in their defeat to Sweden and deserved the draw. Luigi Di Biagio picked a more balanced side against the Group leaders and appears to have figured out what his best options are.
They showed why they have one of the best defences in the tournament with Romagnoli and Rugani both having a great game in central defence.
Going forward the Italians have created chances, but failed to convert them against the Portuguese. They may have more luck against England who have struggled positionally in defence, but should see the return of John Stones which could sure things up a bit.
England bounced back from their defeat against Portugal, thanks to a wonder stroke from Jesse Lingard. His late strike earned England 3 points against the Swede’s but it was less than convincing performance.
The Young Lions midfield has not been at it’s best and any one of the players that started against Sweden could be dropped. Ruben Loftus-Cheek impressed as a substitute, giving them more drive and impetus which was clearly lacking, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he got the nod above Tom Carroll who has been poor so far.
Both sides have only managed a goal a piece in their last two matches and England especially have not been decisive enough going forward. Under 2.5 goals looks to be a given but I’m not going to be backing it a 1.67.
I think England are going to struggle to score again this evening and the edge has to be with the Italians as the underdogs. They look great value on the Asian Handicap betting market at 2.17 +/- 0.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Italy 0 (Draw No Bet) @ 2.17
Portugal v Sweden – Stadion Miroslava Valenty, Uherske Hradiste at 19:45 live on BT Sport 2
Both Portugal and Sweden can qualify for the semi finals of this years Under 21 European Championships but it is very unlikely both sides will make it there.
Portugal lead the group after the first two games and will progress to the semi’s with a win or a draw. They are yet to concede in the competition and have played some delightful football. Having only scored one goal though, the question is are they good enough going forward to worry the other top sides.
They had no problems finding the back of the net in qualifying, winning all 10 of their matches but with the lack of an out and out striker, they have struggled so far in front of goal. In a match where a draw is enough and a very strong defence, I doubt will be too worried going into this match about their lack of goals so far.
Sweden will qualify with a win and it’s possible they make the semi finals with a draw, as long as Italy defeat England in the other Group B match.
They opened their campaign with a decent and unexpected win over the Italians before losing out to England thanks to a late long range effort from Jesse Lingard.
Coach Hakan Ericson has kept with his counter-attacking 4-4-2 formation for both of their first 2 matches and is expected to to do the same this evening.
Strikers Thelin and Guidetti have played well so far causing both Italy and England’s defences problems with their ability to take long balls and interchange quickly with each other.
Sweden are likely to use the long ball against Portugal as they will find it very hard to play it through the middle due to being outnumbered, unless of course they change their style all together which is doubtful.
Sweden are very organised and don’t leave a lot of space but despite Portugal only netting once in their 2 matches, Sweden will find it hard to keep them out.
A close, low scoring match is on the cards but one the favourites can win, sending the Swede’s back home.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Portugal – 0.5 @ 1.83
Prices correct at time of writing.
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