The 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship begin on Wednesday as the upcoming generation get their chances to shine in Romania and Georgia.
We’ve got the group stages covered and have picked out our best bets for the outright winner and top scorer.
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France have the talent to take Euro U21 title
There’s little between the top contenders in the betting for the Under-21 European Championship ahead of the continent’s best and brightest talents facing off in Romania and Georgia.
Spain are the 7/2 favourites, but reigning champions Germany, England and France are in close proximity and with five-time winners Italy also in the conversation.
But it’s the French and their talented crop of youngsters that make the most appeal, despite a far from stellar record in previous European Championships.
Another highly-rated France squad bowed out in the quarter-finals in 2021, while the Little Blues have only once gone on to claim the top prize back in 1988.
France and their bottomless talent pool are therefore overdue a win and there are few reasons why Sylvain Ripoll’s side shouldn’t go deep into this tournament.
France eased through qualifying and a number of their key players come into the Euros off the back of strong domestic seasons, including Enzo Le Fee, Pierre Kalulu, Loic Bade and Amine Adli.
Gouiri can fire French to glory
Amongst a strong pool of attacking talent, Amine Gouiri is one to keep an eye on in the Golden Boot betting.
Although Ripoll likes to shift him out wide, Gouiri still contributes plenty of goals, finishing as France’s topscorer in qualifying. He netted 17 times for club side Rennes this season and given the correlation between tournament and Golden Boot winners – seven of the last 12 topscorers have also won the Euros – those backing France might also want to get behind Gouiri.
The biggest worry for France lies in goal with Illan Meslier having had a rotten campaign at Leeds. However, we’ve seen the senior French squad overcome some erratic goalkeeping to reach the last two World Cups.
Placed in a winnable group alongside Italy and with a potentially softer route to the final, France’s time at the Euros may have finally come again.
Euro U21 Group Stage Predictions
Of the outsiders to win the European Championships, a hard-to-beat Netherlands team make the most appeal and can demonstrate their class by winning Group A.
Portugal, runners-up in 2021, are section favourites but a number of their key players go into this tournament out of form and they are worth opposing.
Belgium could prove a tricky customer with Charles De Ketelaere and Lois Openda names to watch out for but may be lacking elsewhere, while co-hosts Georgia are out of their depth without Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
Spain are expected to walk a group where Ukraine, boosted by being able to select Chelsea’s Mykhailo Mydryk, are likely to serve as their main rivals.
Croatia recently won in England and aren’t readily dismissed in the race for second with hosts Romania facing a battle to reach the quarter-finals.
The group of death sees England and Germany paired together with Lee Carsley’s young Lions hoping to avoid a third successive group-stage exit.
England’s squad is one to admire, containing several Premier League regulars, but Germany, who have won two of the last three Euros, look very strong too.
The Czech Republic have a good record in the European Championships, while Israel are bringing several members of the squad that made the Under-20 World Cup semi-finals.
It would be a major shock if France and Italy didn’t fill the top two places with Switzerland and Norway a step below the pair.
The Norwegians are playing in their first Euros in a decade, while the Swiss squad is mainly made up of players who ply their trade in their lower standard home league.
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