European U21 Championships: Expect Germany and Spain to meet in the final

Sylvain Ripoll
Sylvain Ripoll may find Spain a little too hot to handle.

Spain can get through but might face a tricky test against France and Germany should go through too, says Jamie Pacheco.

"I’ve seen enough from both sides to think that Spain are the better drilled side, have the more technical players and are carrying far more momentum after that near-flawless display against Poland. But they might need to do it he hard way via extra-time or penalties."

Germany U21 v Romania U21
Thursday June 27, 16:00
Live on Sky Sports Football

Yes to a German win, no to a clean sheet

Germany were excellent to start with and secured two comprehensive wins. They were less intense in their third match, drawing 1-1 against Austria, in a match that was pretty even - but I suppose that's understandable. No point getting worn out or having players getting injured so we won't read too much into that performance when the hard work was already done.

Romania are the surprise package from among the semi-finalists. But they thoroughly deserve to be there. Back-to-back wins were followed by a 'convenient' draw against France that allowed both teams to progress. For interest's sake, I watched the game and for at least the first 60 or 70 minutes both teams really tried to win it before a somewhat inevitable decrease in intensity towards the end. So the conspiracy theory did happen when all was said and done but perhaps not in the way many suspected.

Romania have been good but this might just be a step too far for them. They were impressive against Croatia (4-1) and a little fortunate against England who went for broke knowing they needed to win the game and ended up getting caught on the break late on, going down 4-2 in the end. France didn't exactly bring their A-game to the table knowing the draw was enough, so we're yet to see them tested against the very best sides in top gear.

Germany have conceded exactly one goal in each of their three matches so far and there could be a repeat of that here, against a side who scored eight in their first two games.

Romania could draw first blood here or we could have a scenario where Germany go 1-0 up, keep on going forward in search of more and eventually Romania pull one back against a defence that hasn't been watertight. But how many can Germany score?

At 3/1 you can keep 2-1, 3-1 and 4-1 onside and that looks the way to go.

Spain might have to do it the hard way

Spain U21 v France U21
Thursday June 27, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports Football

Spain, my outright tip at the start, did it the hard way but got there in the end. They left it worryingly late against Belgium but there was no mercy when they came up against Poland, thrashing them 5-0. That was against a side who were two from two, by the way.

As for France, they could have considered themselves pretty unfortunate if they had conceded late on against Romania and gone out, having won their first two matches.

Arsenal's Matteo Guendouzi has enjoyed playing in a slightly more advanced role here than he normally occupies for the Gunners and will be an important player for them. Moussa Dembele, formerly of Celtic and now of Lyon, was left out of the starting line-up against Romania so it will be interesting to see if he starts here.

These two played in a friendly back in October 2018 and drew 1-1, a good indication of what many of us suspect: this could be pretty tight indeed. Spain are priced up at 13/10 to win in 90 minutes with France 2/1 and 12/5 the draw. Spain are pretty warm favourites to go through at 6/10.

I've seen enough from both sides to think that Spain are the better drilled side, have the more technical players and are carrying far more momentum after that near-flawless display against Poland.

But they might need to do it he hard way via extra-time or penalties. I actually don't think that they'll mind that too much. As the side expected to dominate possession it will be France who should be more fatigued if it goes the distance and they won't be worrying too much about playing an extra 30 minutes; their priority is to just get to the final. They'll be even less worried if it's Romania they'd play on Sunday rather than Germany.

Split your stakes between Spain going through after extra-time (17/2) or penalties (9/1).

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