European U21 Championships: Poland to trouble hosts Italy

Luigi di Biagio
Luigi di Biagio got his team off to the best possible start with a win over Spain.

It's Spain v Belgium followed by Italy v Poland on Wednesday and in the latter game, both teams can get on the scoresheet in a match that may not be so straightforward for the hosts, says Jamie Pacheco...

"Six of Poland’s 10 qualifying games saw both teams scoring, it happened in both Poland and Italy’s first Group matches here and might be the best way of approaching a game that may be tougher than it seems for the hosts."

Spain U21 v Belgium U21
Wednesday June 19, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports Football

Spain to bite back in entertaining affair

Such is the nature of the format of this tournament that both these sides are already drinking in last-chance saloon after just one game. Spain lost 3-1 to Italy and Belgium went down 3-2 to Poland.

Not only would a defeat here end their hopes of making the semis but a draw would probably have the same result.

Only the best runner-up of the three gets to make the semis meaning that a draw here followed by a last-match win would still only get you to four points; unlikely to be enough.

Bot Spain and Belgium can consider themselves pretty unlucky to have lost. Both had considerably more possession and more corners; on another day both games could have gone a very different way.

Spain's defeat at this tournament was very much out of character. When they lost to Germany in the final back in 2017, it was their first defeat in ten matches and in total, Sunday's loss was just their third in 22 matches at this event.

Despite their somewhat unjust loss to Poland, we were against Belgium ahead of that match mostly based on the fact that they have had so little success at Under 21 level for as long as we can remember.

Spain had a bad day at the office but that certainly doesn't change our view that they have one of the stronger squads at this tournament and could yet be in contention to win it, assuming they win this, improve considerably on their goal difference and do the same all over again in their final match against Poland.

And if they do win this, it should be in quite an entertaining affair. They know that a 1-0 win won't really help their cause because of that goal difference so they'll feel they really need to go for it. With such attacking talent as Dani Ceballos, Borja Mayoral and Mikel Oyarzabal in their ranks, they may just win this comfortably.

This has been a good tournament for goals so far with three of the four matches going over 2.5 goals and a total of 15 scored across those four games.

Go with the Spain win and over 2.5 goals in the game at 6/5.

Italy U21 v Poland U21
Wednesday June 19, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports Football

Poland can at least get a goal

Italy must be feeling pretty good about life right now. A first-day game against Spain isn't exactly what they would have wanted, knowing that defeat would leave them on the brink of elimination on home soil.

Their mood wouldn't have improved when they went 1-0 down to an excellent Dani Ceballos strike. But they fought back valiantly and showed the sort of team spirit that gets you very far in tournament football. Still, they did need an individual to step up and in this case it was Federico Chiesa.

The Fiorentina forward has 100 senior appearances for the Florence club, a strong record at U21 international level with five goals from 11 appearances and has been capped 13 times as a full international. Chiesa scored twice, was named man of the match and will be a big player for them here.

Luigi di Biagio's troops are unbeaten against Poland at this level but given they've never played against each other at this tournament and haven't faced off since 2002, that's of little relevance here.

What is of relevance is that Italy's win over Spain was a bit unexpected because recent form and tournament form didn't suggest such a comfortable win in terms of scoreline. Italy only won one of their last six friendlies coming into the event and that win over Spain made it just four victories in their last nine at the European Championships.

Poland were unbeaten in qualifying and decent enough in beating Belgium. They got the better of Portugal no less over a two-legged playoff to be at this tournament.

Italy look a bit short at 1/3 therefore but rather than take them on that way, we can get 23/20 on both teams scoring.

Six of Poland's 10 qualifying games saw both teams scoring, it happened in both Poland and Italy's first Group matches here and might be the best way of approaching a game that may be tougher than it seems for the hosts.

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