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  • England Serious Contenders For Euro Under Crown After Strong Start

England serious contenders for Euro Under-21 crown after strong start

The young Lions face Germany on Wednesday with a place in the quarter-finals already assured.

England have not won the Under-21 European Championship since 1984, but they look on track to end that barren run in Romania and Georgia.
Not since Mark Hateley top scored 39 years ago have the young Lions reigned at youth level, but Lee Carsley's men have now been installed as 4/1 second favourites behind Spain.
Those two look on course to meet in the final and both play a similar style with intricate midfield possession providing dominance and attacking threat.
England have qualified with a game to spare for the quarter-finals in this tournament for the first time since 2009, when they last reached the final.
A 2-0 win over Czechia in their opener was followed on Sunday by a convincing 2-0 success over Israel on Sunday afternoon.

Gareth Southgate and his assistant Steve Holland were in the stands in Kutaisi and Lee Carsley's men delivered a comprehensive performance. The young Lions produced some classy midfield combinations, not really in the mould of Carsley, who was a midfield enforcer with limitations.

Smith Rowe class

Emile Smith Rowe, who has scored in both games, started on Sunday, while West Ham's Ben Johnson also came into the side.

Smith Rowe is the only player in the squad with a senior cap and his know-how has proved invaluable so far in front of the watching Southgate.

England's midfield options look strong, while they also have plenty of pace with the likes of Anthony Gordon, who opened the scoring against Israel and Noni Madueke.
Nottingham Forest's Morgan Gibbs-White has also been a standout player and he could be the key to unlocking doors as England go deeper into the tournament.
England face Germany on Wednesday, but with a place already guaranteed in the last eight, expect Carsley to ring the changes ahead of quarter-final with the runner up in Group A,
That could be hosts Georgia, the Netherlands, Belgium or Portugal, but England will be confident of reaching the last four.
In a tournament which none of the broadcasters have picked up in the UK, Smith Rowe let slip the team's target.
"We had that talk before we even came over here. We have the confidence that we want to make a statement in this tournament and believe that we can go all the way and win it. We just have to make sure we take each game as it comes," said the Arsenal man.
"There's not many days between the games so we have to recover quick. It's a great bunch of lads. Everyone helps each other. Even the boys that haven't played are really helping us help the team."

The only way of watching Carsley's men to date has been via UEFA.tv, but that was struggling to show the England stream on Sunday. Whether or not one of the big broadcasters will pay for the rights as England progress is unclear. But Carsley's men are going about their jobs out of the glare of the mainstream media and that might well suit them.

Spain favourites

Favourites Spain have been impressive though. They have two wins from two games and have yet to concede a goal, although Croatia gave them some uneasy moments.
Five-time winners Spain scored after 20 seconds through Abel Ruiz in the 1-0 win over Croatia. That made up for a horrendous miss in the 3-0 win over Romania in their first group game.
There are not too many familiar names in the Spain squad, but Real Betis' pair Miranda and Rodri have been influential from left-back and central midfield.
Man City's Sergio Gomez brings a winning mentality and he scored via a deflected free-kick against Romania.
Spain look the best of England's rivals and a showdown at the Adjarabet Arena, Georgia on July 8, looks more than likely.

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