Euro's U21- The Story So Far

Euro's U21- The Story So Far

For the previous 2 weeks we have seen some of the best young talents in Europe compete against each other with their nations. As any major tournament goes we have witnessed shocks, underdog stories and standout performers.

In a previous Blog we discussed England’s team and their chances within the Euros. They have provided the country with huge hope as they progress into the final. Throughout this blog we will discuss the story so far for all countries involved and see how each team have performed throughout the competition.

Group stages

Group A

1. Georgia- 5pts 

2. Portugal- 4pts 

3. Netherlands- 3pts 

4. Belgium- 2pts 

This group was originally viewed as the hardest group with three big hitters in Portugal, Netherlands, and Belgium. Georgia was a classic underdog story as they outperform the rest of the group by finishing top on 5 points. They beat an extraordinarily strong Portugal side and it was stalemate against both Belgium and Netherlands.

Portugal managed to just scrape into the knockout rounds as they beat Belgium on the final day to progress. Portugal has some stand out players such as Fabio Silva and Pedro Neto.

Netherlands did go the campaign unbeaten as they drew all three games however, they could not get that much needed win that they required to progress. This was a disappointing campaign for the Dutch as they had some exceptionally talented players at their disposal including Gravenberch and Summerville.

Belgium did not qualify as they failed to win a game, drawing two and losing against Portugal on the Final day. On the final group game, the table was in the balance as all 4 teams could still qualify. 

Group B

1. Spain- 7pts 

2. Ukraine- 7pts 

3. Croatia- 1pts 

4. Romania- 1pts 

Spain as expected cruised through the group winning two and drawing one. They beat both Croatia and Romania comfortably, without conceding a goal. Spain control possession and cause fear for most teams. Spain's standout out players so far has been striker Abel Ruiz who has been on the score sheet numerous times. Another high performer has been Manchester City's Sergio Gomez, his performances may give Pep Guardiola a few questions for next season.  

Ukraine may not have been many people's favourites at the start of the tournament. However, they have been a force going forward with the likes of Chelsea forward Mudryk who has displayed his blistering pace. They also possess current top goal scorer of the competition Sudakov. Ukraine qualified with ease and only conceded two against Spain which resulted in a draw.

Both Croatia and co-hosts Romania will be disappointed with their Euro campaign however, both teams should not be disheartened as the fellow group toppers were on fire and it would have been extremely difficult to get anything from those games.

Group C

1. England- 9pts 

2. Israel- 4pts 

3. Czechia- 3pts 

4. Germany- 1pts 

England dominated the group winning all three games without conceding a goal. In a previous blog we singled out some star players to look out for and they do not disappoint. Morgan Gibbs White, Madueke and Jacob Ramsey alongside others have made a statement to the rest of the competition that they are serious contenders.

Israel with an unexpected qualification through the group stages comes with great surprise as England and former champions Germany were both predicted to go through. However, with only one defeat they managed to pip through the group just over Czechia. Israel star man was Gloukh who managed 2 assists in 4 games and showed the top clubs in Europe why he is one to watch.

The biggest disappointment of the tournament was without a doubt Germany. With an incredibly talented team, they got a respectable draw against Israel on the first game however, they then failed to win in both of their remaining games which meant they were dumped from the competition. They will hope to improve for the summer Olympics next year.

Group D

1. France- 9pts

2. Switzerland- 3pts 

3. Italy- 3pts 

4. Norway- 3pts 

France alongside England were the only team to win all three games. France at the start of the competition were one of the favourites to win with a large pool of elite youngsters playing in extremely competitive leagues. They finished top of the group only conceding two goals and scoring an impressive 7.

Group D was remarkably interesting between Switzerland, Italy, and Norway. All three teams finished on the same points which left the deciding factor being goals scored. Switzerland narrowly gained second place as they scored one more goal than Italy. This is intriguing as they finished with the worst goal difference in the group. Italy will be disappointed as they only needed a point against Norway to qualify, they lost 1-0.

Knockout Stages

Georgia 0-0 Israel (aet, Israel won 4-3 on pens) 

Co-hosts Georgia had a brilliant opportunity to progress into the Semi Finals as they played fellow underdogs Israel. This game was evenly matched, and it played out that way.

Both teams went for the win, but they could not break the deadlock. After 120 minutes battling it out, the game could still not be decided; meaning it went to penalties.

Israel came out of top as they beat Israel 4-3 on penalties, goalkeeper Daniel Peretz made some excellent saves throughout the game as well as decisive penalty save. Peretz claimed the UEFA Player of the Match and stated: "It's a real honour but the pressure during penalties is, in my opinion, more on the players. And this has been a team performance. So, I want to share this trophy with my team."

Spain 2-1 Switzerland (aet)

Spain may have progressed into the semi-finals for the 4th time out of 6 Euro campaigns although, this was not a routine victory. Switzerland provided the Spanish with a lot of problems, and they could have come away with a victory on another day.

Spain is known for the footballing prowess and talent, and they had this on display for the first goal. They played some very intricate football for Sergio Gomez to finish off with a lovely finish into the bottom corner. Gomez has now got 2 goals and 2 assists so far, a brilliant return for the Spaniard.

Switzerland scored a last gasp equaliser to take the game into extra time. This was a perfect opportunity for the Swiss to grab another goal or take the game to Penalties.

It wasn't to be for Switzerland as Spain had a huge slice of good fortune as Miranda strikes the ball outside the box and it take a huge deflection of the Swiss defender to take it beyond the keeper. Spain then hang on to progress into the semi-final.

England 1-0 Portugal 

England have been one of the standout performers so far within the tournament. Although, it was discussed that they have not been challenged against a top-quality side. Originally, Germany was expected to be that test, but they have shown this tournament that they are nowhere near their usual standards. Portugal had some excellent players and provided a real threat to England's chances of reaching the Semi Final.

Antony Gordan has had a fine tournament and continued his form with an opening goal against Portugal. Portugal dominated the ball for large parts and looked the more attacking team out of the two. England only managed 6 shots, but they managed to create some noticeably big opportunities. Portugal came closest to an equaliser when they hit the cross bar but England Progress into the Semi Finals!

France 1-3 Ukraine 

Ukraine with a thoroughly deserved win against France meaning they progress into the Semi Finals. Ukraine were lightning fast on the counterattack; France could not cope with Ukraine for a large majority of the game.

France took the lead with Cherki scoring a lovely goal, this looked like it will be a routine victory for France. Ukraine then blew the French away, Sudakov double puts Ukraine in front before half time.

France tried repeatedly to get the equaliser, this then created the opportunity for Ukraine to counter and finish the game off. The opportunity fell for Bondarenko who uses a lovely skill to glide around the French defender then chip over the scrambling keeper. Ukraine progress into the Semi Final.

Semi Finals

Spain 5-1 Ukraine 

A five star performance by the Spanish to cruise into the Final. Ukraine had a very good tournament but came undone against a top opposition like Spain. 

Spain will be flying after a performance like that, once again Abel Ruiz showed his class scoring a goal and earning player of the match. 

A TV audience of more than 1.9m watched Spain's triumph last night, the nation are excited about this young team and will cheer them on every step of the way. 

Israel 0-3 England 

England who have still yet to concede in the tournament, cruised through this game and book a place into Saturday's final. They should of been leading in the first 20 minutes when the young Lions were awarded a penalty. MGW stepped up to take it but dragged the shot wide. 

This was a minor setback in what turned out to be a routine win, MGW gets another chance and he slots home from a lovely cross. Palmer had a brilliant game scoring one and assisting two. Archer, one of the only recognised strikers within the squad came of the bench to score and ensure England's win and a place in the final against Spain on Saturday. 

The Final- Spain v England: Saturday 6pm 

This is set up to be a cracker, both teams have impressed throughout the competition and will hope to have some silverware at the end to show for it. Both teams oozing with confidence and possess exceptional talent. This game could go either way, live updates will be shown on @Footballflick twitter.