Portugal U21 v Sweden U21 Preview

Josa Sa could help Portugal to U21 glory
Josa Sa could help Portugal to U21 glory

Sweden and Portugal romped to impressive wins in their respective semi-finals to set up a European U21 Championship final showdown.

Sweden and Portugal could not be separated in their group clash on June 24 and both sides struggled for goals only to then score at will in their respective semi-finals.

Both sides arrived in the Czech Republic for the tournament placed in Group B alongside England and Italy and were not expected to progress into the knockout stages.

Gareth Southgate's Young Lions were tipped to be the team to watch following their undefeated qualification programme and boasting a team packed with strikers such as Saido Berahino, Harry Kane and Danny Ings, who all scored regularly in the Premier League last season.

The loss of Berahino should not have made that much difference to England, but they found goals difficult to come by as they crashed out of the tournament with one win and two defeats form their three games.

Ironically the one win came against the Swedes last Sunday as Jesse Lingard fired a late goal to seal a 1-0 victory, but the opening 1-0 defeat to Portugal and 3-1 reverse against the Italians proved too costly.

The Portuguese's only win came against England, but they drew their other two games to top the group, while Sweden pipped Italy to second spot on goal difference.

Neither looked like world beaters in the group stage, however they appeared to have found top form in the semi-finals on Saturday with convincing wins.

The Swedes thrashed Scandinavian rivals Denmark 4-1, while Portugal produced an even bigger surprise as they battered 2009 champions Germany 5-0.

The Danes went into the game in Prague bubbling with confidence after winning Group A thanks to two wins from three games, but released Manchester City striker John Guidetti showed that he could be the man to make the difference for Sweden in these finals with his second goal of the tournament from the penalty spot to start the ball rolling.

Simon Tibbling, whose late equaliser in the 1-1 group draw with Portugal sealed their place in the last four, also scored his second of the tournament, while Robin Quaison and Oscar Hiljemark also found the net to ruin Denmark's hopes of ending their 33-year wait for the title.

Portugal won Group B, but the Germans were fancied to go far this year and they were also undefeated from the group stage with a 3-0 victory against Denmark the highlight.

However the Portuguese, who negotiated the group despite only scoring two goals, made up for that as they comfortably dismissed the Germans in Olomouc despite their opponents having an extra day's rest.

The goals were shared evenly too with Bernardo Silva, Ricardo Pereira, Ivan Cavaleiro, Joao Mario, with his second goal of the tournament, and Ricardo Horta all on target.

The stark contrast in results for the two finalists from their group performances leaves us venturing a little into the unknown as what to expect in Tuesday's final at Prague's Eden Arena.

Sweden and Portugal could not be separated in their group clash on June 24 and both sides struggled for goals only to then score at will in their respective semi-finals.

The fact Guidetti and Tibbling both appear to have found their best form as the tournament has progressed could give the Swede's a slight advantage, but Portugal head coach Rui Jorge will no doubt point to the fact his side have goals throughout which will pose problems for their opponents as the Germans found out to their cost.

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