U21 Euro Championships: Steady start awaits England

5Jun 2013


As the action gets underway in Israel, Christian Crowther offers tips for Group A's opening fixtures, including England's game with Italy...

Israel U21 v Norway U21, Wednesday 17:00, Sky Sports 2, Match Odds: Israel U21 2.42, Norway U21 3.2, The Draw 3.4

It's always a little tricky to judge quite what to expect from the hosts of major tournaments without them having first gone under the qualification microscope, though only one successful qualification campaign, back in 2007, from 11 attempts suggests that Israel are lucky to be at the finals.

Meanwhile, Norway came through a mightily tough two-legged play-off against France, winning the second leg 5-3, to progress to these finals and will make formidable opposition for the hosts.

In England's qualifying group, the Norwegians only lost to the Young Lions, completing a notable 3-1 win away in Belgium, and they should be capable of spoiling the hosts' party.

Recommended Bet: Back Norway U21 to win @ 3.2

England U21 v Italy U21, Wednesday 19:30, Sky Sports 2, Match Odds: England U21 3.3, Italy U21 2.42, The Draw 3.35

England really have blazed a trail to this Championship, following up five wins to nil their last five qualifiers for the tournament by recording four more blemish-free victories in subsequent friendlies.

To his credit, Stuart Pearce has forged a near-impenetrable Young Lions defensive unit. Jack Butland has been hugely impressive between the sticks and protected by the likes of Steven Caulker, Liverpool's Andre Wisdom, Nathaniel Clyne and Sunderland's Danny Rose (suspended for this game), it's not hard to see why, as all excelled in the Premier League this season.

Against the old foe Italy, it's likely to be a fairly cat-and-mouse affair as both teams know a draw would set them up well enough for the easier group fixtures to come.

Italy themselves qualified well for the tournament and represent the most successful nation at this level, despite not featuring in the final since last winning it in 2004.

Two of the last three contests between the Young Lions and their Azzurrini counterparts have ended in parity with the most recent one finishing 1-0 to the Italians. It's a tough one to call, but England should at least start undefeated.

Best Bet: Back the draw @ 3.35
Other Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 goals @ 1.75


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Keywords: U21 Euro Championships, England

Source: Betfair

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