<![CDATA[The domestic football seasons may be over for a few months, but that’s not to say the excitement has to stop.
There is a whole host of international football tournaments taking place at the moment – the Womens World Cup and Copa America are two such examples – but it’s the European Under 21 Championships that are really capturing the imagination.
Eight teams are battling it out for the prize, with the latest talents off of football’s conveyor belts strutting their stuff on the big stage.
So who are the teams to watch....and who is likely to lift the trophy?
Germany, Denmark, Serbia, Czech Republic
In the slightly easier group to predict, we have tournament favourites Germany, the talented Denmark, the outsider Serbia and the hosts Czech Republic.
Denmark already have three points to their name after defeating the Czech’s 2-1, whilst Germany and Serbia were locked in a 1-1 stalemate. But they will still be confident of qualifying.
This Germany team is well-drilled, highly efficient and in Marc-Andre ter Stegen they boast a Champions League winner.
Liverpool’s Emre Can opened the scoring against Serbia, and he is joined in midfield by the highly talented trio of Max Meyer, Johannes Geis and Max Arnold.
Should they win the crown they will emulate the famous Germany team of 2009, who destroyed England 4-0 in the final and included Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Mesut Ozil.
The Danish football community are very excited about this crop of young talents, which includes even players who have already made their senior debuts.
The squad includes Pierre-Emile Hojberg and Jannick Westergaard, who scored against the Czechs, and are two talents who have already made their mark on the Bundesliga with their clubs Bayern and Werder Bremen.
The Danes won eight of their ten games in qualifying, and are full of confidence heading into the tournament. They should qualify for the semi finals….and then who knows what might happen.
England, Portugal, Italy, Sweden
England never tend to do well in big tournaments, but with 15 wins in their past 17 games they will be thinking that they can change that pattern.
They’ve recently beaten their Group B rivals Portugal in a friendly, so the omens are good for the Three Lions to progress to the semi finals.
With the squad containing bags of Premier League experience in the likes of Harry Kane, Danny Ings and Saido Berahino, it’s unlikely that they will be fazed by the big occasion.
In a surprising turn of events, it is Portugal and not Italy who are fancied to qualify from Group B.
They won eight from eight in qualifying, and then took apart a much-fancied Holland in the final play-off.
They lack the big names of some of their competitors, but combined they are a force to be reckoned with. Their midfielder William Carvalho has continuously been linked with a big money move to Arsenal or Manchester United.
By: Craig Simpkin]]>