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England U21 v Portugal U21: Young Lions can roar in tournament opener

15 Jun | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
England U21 v Portugal U21: Young Lions can roar in tournament opener

Gareth Southgate’s men can kick off campaign with a victory

A lot is expected of both England and Portugal in the European Under-21 Championship this summer but England can show their superior quality when they meet in Uherske Hradiste on Thursday.

England are second favourites to lift the trophy and Portugal are only marginally behind them so we can expect a really high quality contest in the south-east of Czech Republic.

Gareth Southgate’s team go in as the favourites this week and that is partly down to the victory they secured last time the two sides met. This was at Turf Moor in November of last year and the English walked away with a 3-1 win thanks to a brace from Danny Ings.

It was just a friendly but it clearly demonstrates that England can breach the defence of the Portuguese youngsters. It also illustrates the attacking options available to Southgate as Ings may well not start this week with Harry Kane and Saido Berahino vying for a starting berth.

England are not only dangerous going forward but very sturdy at the back. They conceded just two goals in 10 qualification contests en route to Czech Republic, fewer than any other side. John Stones, Calum Chambers and Carl Jenkinson all have senior caps and it shows against inexperienced attacks.

Portugal also impressed throughout qualification with eight wins in as many outings, but they have just tailed off a little in recent friendlies. Whilst England have beaten Czech Republic, Germany and Belarus this year, Portugal have lost to the Czechs and drawn with Denmark, failing to score in either outing.

Heading into a clash with the best defence in the tournament is not a good time to dry up in front of goal; it is certainly a worry for Rui Jorge the Portugal boss. Jorge’s more effective weapons come from midfield rather than their strikers; Monaco’s Bernardo Silva especially dangerous with five goals in just nine appearances.

It will be tight, between two genuine contenders in this competition, but England are superior at the back and also have the edge up front. It will be edgy as neither team will want to get underway with a loss but England have enough going for them to be backed, especially at this very generous price.

England to win @ 7/5