England U21 and Italy U21 have met nine times this century and the Young Lions have never been victorious. They did at least obtain a draw in four of the latter eight contests, and a repeat of that result should be within their capabilities.
England U21’s mediocrity to date in this European U21 Championship is quite easy to spin into a positive.
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Match Odds: England U21 2.56, Italy U21 3.10, The Draw 3.40
Without performing to their full potential, they are in a position whereby a draw will see them into the semi-finals provided Group B leaders Portugal U21 aren’t turned over by Sweden U21.
However, one lingering negative constrains that optimism: they aren’t playing very well ahead of a clash with a team that they never play well against. England U21 and Italy U21 have met nine times this century – most recently in the 2013 tournament – and, regardless of the constant cast changes in that timeframe, the Young Lions have never been victorious.
They did at least obtain a draw in four of the latter eight contests, and a repeat of that result should be within their capabilities.
Despite being spearheaded by Domenico Berardi, who scored 15 Serie A goals and set up ten more for 12th-placed Sassuolo in 2014/15, the Azzurrini didn’t strike once from open play in their opening two Group B fixtures, and they had a man advantage for 52 minutes against Sweden U21.
Back the draw @ 3.40
Match Odds: Portugal U21 1.84, Sweden U21 5.00, The Draw 3.80
Sweden U21 likely require a win over the competition’s 4.70 second favourites to progress following a defeat to England U21. It is a difficult task, but they certainly shouldn’t be written off because their entire route to this point has been about getting by at the last minute when thoroughly discounted.
They weren’t even making the qualifying play-offs until Oscar Hiljemark’s 92nd-minute effort against Turkey U21 secured a 4-3 triumph in their final group tie, they rallied from 2-0 down against France U21 in that two-legger and then fell behind again in the 87th minute, only to regain the lead a minute later. Their three Group B points came in a game against Italy U21 that they trailed with ten men.
Their tendency to finish with a flourish is shared by Portugal U21, who won their final qualifying group encounter 3-1, concluding the scoring in injury time, and enjoying a spectacular 5-4 success over Netherlands U21 in the second leg of their play-off.
The advice therefore is to trust this collision to rage against the mundanity of the Group B fare to date – there have been a combined five goals in four matches – by delivering over 2.5 goals.
Back over 2.5 goals @ 2.06
Michael Lintorn foresees a draw for England U21 against bogey side Italy U21, which would leave them relying on an assist from Portugal U21…