This year’s European Under-21 Championship is held in Poland, where current champions Sweden tried attempting to fend off their competitors, hoping to retain their crown and win it for a second year running.
However, the main favourites going into the competition were Spain, Germany and England, with England losing to Germany on penalties and Germany progressing to the final they will face Spain.
With the likes of names in the competition such as Redmond, Asensio, Sanches, Gnabry and Inaki Williams, all with talents to set the tournament alight. England topped their group achieving seven points alongside Spain and Germany who topped their group, too.
The standout performances from Spain and England secured them places in the semi-finals firmly and the standout Spaniards progressed through to the final beating Italy 3-1 with a Saul Niguez hat-trick.
The standout player based on the statistics at the minute must go to the Real Madrid playmaker, Marco Asensio, who represents Spain.
After hitting a hat-trick for his country, the 21-year-old is not getting carried away and wants to continue his fine form. The Real Madrid star scored three superb goals in a 5-0 victory as Spain started their European Under-21 Championship campaign in style.
While Asensio, who was top goal scorer of the tournament until Niguez notched five goals, received widespread praise for his outstanding showing, he is stayed focused.
“We knew that our first match would be complicated because we had to start well and I think we had a great game against a good team, who made it difficult,” he said.
The question has been asked ‘Can anyone stop Spain?’
They are strong all over the pitch with experience in La Liga’s biggest and best teams overflowing from the squad. They have Champions League winners and some of the hottest young defensive talent to come out of Spain in year including Jorge Mere and Jesus Vallejo, who could be the postmodern Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique.
Their attacking force is very lethal, with the likes of Gerard Deulofeu providing penetration and Saul Niguez, a player who has featured in a Champions League final, scored against Portugal in their dominant 3-1 victory against Portugal on Tuesday. In the 21st minute Saul marauded through the Portuguese defence.
The Atletico Madrid youngster showed superb quick feet as he shimmied to the edge of the box past three Portugal defenders, and his shot nestled in the back of the net after a slight deflection.
The efficient Germans
Much like their cars, the Germans have proven how efficient they are in the Under-21 European Championship as they are undefeated showing an abundance of flair in every performance.
They have many talented players such as the likes of Serge Gnabry, once an Arsenal player, now back in his homeland playing for Bayern Munich. Mahmoud Dahoud, a talented midfielder who has recently signed for Borussia Dortmund.
One of the things that makes Dahoud such a highly-touted prospect is the fact that he can function in multiple roles as a midfielder, a trait which is rare in midfielders of his age and suggests a high level of football intelligence.
He shows all the characteristics of a so called ‘needle player’, a player with great ball control and an ability to function in compact and crowded areas of the field almost as well as in spacious areas of the pitch.
Finally, the final German talent to watch out for throughout the tournament is Davie Selke, who scored a powerful header versus England utilising all of his 6’4 stature and also domestically was credited for his goals that helped RB Leipzig reach second place and securing a Champions League spot.
Should England feel robbed of not placing in the final?
With the talent that England possess, you would feel they would have been favourites to reach the Under-21 European Championship final. The Young Lions came of age beating the hosts Poland 3-0.
“Well, I believed we could get to the semi-finals,” Boothroyd said. “And we have got there. We have gone from being one of the best 12 to one of the best four, whoever they are. The plan is to get to be one of the best two and then, hopefully, the best one.”
Also, to think at half-time in their previous match, against Slovakia, England were a goal down and struggling and appearing out, yet showed fighting spirit to turn the game round.
From then to now they have scored five unanswered goals and dominated with some outstanding performances from captain James Ward-Prowse, both central defenders – Alfie Mawson and Calum Chambers – Lewis Baker, John Swift and Demarai Gray who made his first start and scored the first goal and also came up clutch against the Germans.
Written by Giovan Hayer
Follow Giovan on Twitter @GiovanH
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