U21 European Championships Betting: England lack desire to triumph
Stuart Pearce may be taking a depleted squad to Sweden but, while it may not be Arsene Wenger's idea of how young talents should spend their summers, the Under 21 European Championships provide some prime punting opportunities, says Tareq Quiroz.
Just when you thought the season was over you find yourself sucked in by the international fixtures. I can't say that the prospect of Kazakhstan v England filled me with great anticipation but needless to say I sat through the full 90 minutes. Once you're in you can't get out and that was quickly followed up by Uruguay v Brazil. If that fare wasn't enough to get your football juices flowing then the upcoming U21 European Championships surely will...
Club managers all around the country will be cursing the U21 Euro Championships in Sweden. The tournament gets underway next week when England take on Finland in their opening group match. After a long hard season, a few extra weeks of competitive action may just be a step too far. This is been reflected in the make-up of Stuart Pearce's injury-depleted squad.
Make no mistake, this is a tough tournament that will take some winning. Pearce is not the kind of guy to let his troops go through the motions and you can be sure he will fire them up. They are currently the third favourites for the event at odds of around [5.0]. This is a fair price for a team comprised of untried and successful Premier League players.
Arsene Wenger has been outspoken about the proposed participation of Theo Walcott in both the full England team and the U21's. It is essentially adds five weeks onto the end of the season for any player taking part and Wenger fears burnout with the likes of Walcott. It is not hard to see his point when you consider that the domestic season starts early next season due to the World Cup in 2010. I really don't think it was necessary to have Walcott and James Milner in both squads. Capello, however, is his own man and will make the decisions that he feels will bring success to England.
On paper, England under-21's first 11 is extremely competitive and would have a great chance of winning this tournament. The two major issues that I can see are commitment and injury. It is never nice to question the desire of top professionals but I have to believe that none of the top players in the squad want to go to Sweden. Armchair pundits up and down the country can huff and puff all they like about how players should be able to play twice a week but studies show that if they do performance levels drop and injuries are picked up.
This England U21 team has the ability but I think on the day they will get turned over by a team with just that more desire. You can't dismiss any team that has the likes of Micah Richards, Theo Walcott and Gabriel Agbonlahor in it but as the three best players in the squad they also have in common the fact that they have suffered a loss of form and or injury in the past year. These players need to be rested and not turning out against a Finnish U21 team weeks after the end of the season. If that wasn't enough they also have a warm-up game against Azerbaijan on Monday evening. A totally uninspiring fixture for which England are trading at [1.1] in the Match Odds market.
Don't forget that this is the same England unit that only just scraped past an inexperienced Wales team in the play-offs. Whilst I think Pearce's men will have enough to squeeze through the group stages they will be found wanting in the knock-out stages.
Understandably this is a tournament where Spain are slight favourites [4.0] but I feel that is largely influenced by the success of their senior team. This Spanish side only just overcame Switzerland after extra-time in the play-offs and though talented, they aren't necessarily the best team. I would look slightly further down the market for potential winners.
My fancies are Serbia, they are a strong unit and you can have no questions about their commitment. Their first match is against Italy and a win will send their odds crashing so my advice is to get on them at the pre-tournament [8.6].
The Euro U21 Championship in Sweden holds little in the way of anticipation but I think it is fair to say that you will still find me glued to the screen for every match possible. I don't expect any England success but hey, there's nothing new there.
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