UEFA Under-21 final: Pragmatic Portugal can temper Sweden steel
Both Portugal and Sweden’s Under-21s laid down major markers in making the UEFA Under-21 European Championship final by battering respective semis opponents Germany and Denmark. This comes in stark contrast to the cagey draw these two teams played out in the group stage.
The Navigators’ famous 5-0 rout of the tournament favourites is enough to give them odds-on 4/6 status with Coral to wrap up this youth title in 90 minutes. Despite putting four past their Scandinavian rivals, the Swedes are 4/1 outsiders, and a draw, which means extra time and possibly penalties, is an 11/4 chance.
Despite Portuguese wide options being plentiful, they have been surprisingly pragmatic in their approach to this championship. Starting with a narrow midfield diamond, affording Monaco attack Bernardo Silva a free role behind the front two, Rui Jorge has then astutely switched things in the second half by bringing on wingers to stretch opponents.
This worked a treat against Germany in the semis, and it’s to an ensemble cast that punters backing Portugal should once again look for goals. Semi-final scorers Silva (5/1 to strike first again), Ricardo Pereira (6/5 anytime), Ricardo Horta (better at 2/1 in that market) and Ivan Cavaleiro (shorter at 5/4) are all worth considering again.
Punters may like the look of top scorer Joao Mario at 11/2 anytime, and he has certainly been given plenty of box-to-box duties throughout the tournament. Playing alongside Sporting Lisbon teammate William Carvalho means he can break forward with confidence, knowing there is cover.
Out to stop Portugal in the engine room is a Sweden side that has silk and steel in midfield. Both holding players, Oscar Hiljemark and Simon Tibbling, both based in the Dutch Eredivisie, have also gone on the offensive in support of striker John Guidetti.
PSV’s Hiljemark is an 11/2 anytime chance, but you can get the same odds for fellow midfielder Tibbling, who has netted in back-to-back matches. That makes the latter, on FC Groningen’s books, splendid value.
The Swedes cannot rely upon this area alone, and outgoing Manchester City striker Guidetti, who spent 2014/15 on loan at Celtic and becomes a free agent on July 1, is their joint-leading marksman.
Tasty 2/1 odds say he will net anytime, which punters can enhance to 8/1 for Guidetti to grab the opener. With this type of talent on show, we like the look of Portugal winning but Sweden scoring.