Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
England U21 V Portugal U21
Thursday 18th June. 7:45PM. BT Sport 1
After months of preparation, Gareth Southgate’s men finally get their Euro 2015 campaign underway in the Czech Republic as they take on Rui Jorge’s Portugal at the Mestsky Fotbalovy Stadion.
There is a huge sense of optimism surround England’s U21s right now and fans will be hopeful of seeing the boys go all the way over the next fortnight or so. However, no matches are easy at this stage and Portugal certainly have enough quality to cause some problems too.
Whatever happens, it should be a thrilling contest. Come on England!
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Lions Looking To Attack
This is easily the best England U21s side since the Young Lions reached the final in 2009 and Southgate’s team boasts genuine quality all over the pitch. His side is blessed with bags of Premier League and Championship experience and that should come to great use over the next few matches.
Additionally, the team will be in great confidence as they enter the tournament on the back of an unbeaten qualifying campaign. In fact, the 3-2 loss to France is their only blemish in 2014/15 and the likes of Harry Kane, Saido Berahino and Danny Ings have all grown immensely following positive Premier League campaigns.
The attackers aren’t England’s only source of confidence, though, and there are five squad players with senior caps under their belt whilst others have at least been called up to the setup despite failing to make full debuts yet. Meanwhile, the experience of Jack Butland, Will Hughes, Tom Carroll and Nathaniel Chalobah at this level is bound to come in handy.
Southgate’s men are fancied by many as dark horses for the entire tournament. That’s a long way off, but if they kickstart their tournament in style then they should at least reach the latter stages.
Portugal Hope For Repeat Of Last Summer
Esperancas might enter this Group B clash as slight underdogs but Jorge will be confident after matching England’s unbeaten qualifying record. However, Portugal were beaten 3-1 by the Young Lions just last November and that could play on their minds.
However, you only have to go back to June 2014 to find the last Portugal win in this head-to-head rivalry as Ricardo Horta’s goal gave them the win at the Toulon tournament. If the Malaga striker can find his best form then the Young Lions defence could be in for a tough battle.
Portugal boast a solid backline too, which will be needed to contain England’s front men. The likes of Paulo Oliveira and Raphael Guerreiro have been capped at international level, as have four midfield players and there is no reason that the underdogs will fear England here.
A strong start could be pivotal for Portugal. If they can impose themselves early on then we should have a fantastic contest on our hands.
England U21 V Portugal U21 Betting Tips
Southgate’s men entered this tournament as second favourites to win the whole thing and the bookmakers are just about edging that way with this contest too as they are priced 8/5 with Bet365. However, odds of 7/4 for Portugal and 11/5 for the draw suggests this could be tighter than many expect.
Both teams possess strong defences but the respective attacking lines are frighteningly impressive for the U21 stage and we think both teams will find the target here.
It took just 48 minutes for this selection to come in when the sides met at Turf Moor last November and it should come in with plenty of time to spare once more.
[quote_center]BTTS Yes @ 10/11 with CoralCoral[/quote_center]
The other bet that stands out to us is Harry Kane anytime scorer. The Spurs man has enjoyed a brilliant year and surely wouldn’t have been picked for this tournament unless Southgate wanted to build the attack around him.
Bet365 are offering odds of 15/8 on this selection, compared to just evens with some of the other firms. For value alone, it has to be worth a punt.
[quote_center]Harry Kane to score anytime @ 15/8 with Bet365Bet365[/quote_center]