Portugal to break Germany's Euro U21s stranglehold
Portugal and Germany will lock horns in tonight's UEFA European U21s final, and the Iberian nation will be looking to at least temporarily release the iron-like grip Die Mannschaft have held over the trophy in recent competitions. The slight underdogs reached the last game by squeezing past fierce rivals Spain, courtesy of an unfortunate own goal by Villarreal centre back Jorge Cuenca. Their adversaries at Stožice Stadium in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana also edged past their 'old enemies', where an early Florian Wirtz brace was sufficient to claim a 2-1 victory over Netherlands. Long-time head coach Rui Jorge, a former international left back, has greater strength in depth at his disposal, and that could prove to be the single difference between the sides. Read our preview here:
Dany, the champion of the
Though a far lower profile player at club level than the vast majority of his teammates, striker Dany Mota has exploded into life at this year's tournament, hitting vital goals against the likes of England and Italy to help Esperanças to being just one game from lifting the trophy. He has taken the disappointment of narrowly missing out on successive promotions with Serie B outfit Monza and used his talents to maximum effect. In Rui Jorge's diamond, he'll be partnered up top by Gonçalo Ramos, who has started to feature in Benfica's first team to great early success thus far. The strategy will be to move the ball quickly amongst the four in midfield, shifting it wide to aim for the tall duo in attack, or a late runner from the centre of the park.
It's Vitaly performs
Leverkusen wonderkid Florian Wirtz once again grabbed the headlines with his double in the semis, ensuring passage through to the showpiece event. He'll join Lukas Nmecha and the prolific Serbian-born striker Mergim Berisha in the front three, but a change could be afoot at the base of midfield. Brentford pivot Vitaly Janelt could be drafted in to shut down Portugal's speedy advances through the second third of the pitch, and it will be another big test of his credentials ahead of the Bees' first ever stint in the Premier League next term.
Stefan Kuntz's charges have laboured a little to reach the final, drawing three from five of their previous matches, and although Sunday night's opponents were under the cosh for much of their game with Spain, they nevertheless emerged triumphant, and have now won all 12 of their most recent fixtures. There are a number of excellent attacking options available to Rui Jorge from his bench, and in another contest that could go the distance, that will prove crucial. bet365 have odds of 2.00 for Portugal to lift the U21s trophy, in what could be a very memorable summer for the nation.