2017 European Under-21 Championship Odds
For the first time in its history, the UEFA European Under-21 Championship will see 12 teams compete for the trophy, expanding from eight teams in 2015.
Under the previous format, eight teams were split into two groups of four, with the top two sides from each group earning a place in the knockout rounds. However, the group stage will now be contested by three groups of four, with the top sides from each group joined by the best second placed team from the three groups, with the hopes of increasing competition for places.
The tournament will be held in Poland between the 16th and 30th of June, with the host nation facing off against Slovakia, Sweden, England, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Macedonia, Germany, Czech Republic, Denmark and Italy to clinch the trophy.
Some of those teams stand out as potential winners, yet Sweden proved last time out that the favourites tag doesn’t necessarily mean victory. The Scandinavian nation were given little chance of winning the tournament back in 2013, but they overcame the likes of Italy, Denmark and Portugal to lift the cup.
Their victory last time out will give some of the smaller national teams hope of pulling off a shock victory this time round, but which sides are favourites to emerge victorious?
The Germany U21s were the only side to go undefeated in all 10 of their qualifying games for this tournament, beating the likes of Austria and Russia to earn themselves the favourites tag heading into the tournament.
With a squad containing recognisable names such as Niklas Sule, Jonathan Tah, Max Meyer, Timo Werner, Davie Selke and Leroy Sane, Germany have a fantastic chance of going all the way this summer. In fact, were they not citizens of one of the world’s best footballing nations, most of those players would undoubtedly be playing for the senior team already. Their time will undoubtedly come, but first they must prove themselves at U21 level.
Portugal finished the 2015 tournament as runners-up, losing out on their first European U21 Championship trophy after suffering a shock penalty shootout defeat to Sweden in a game that they were clear favourites to win. The loss would have hurt, but it could motivate them to double their efforts this time round.
Their route to the final two years ago included a 5-0 demolition of Germany and they will be confident that they can match up against any opposition once again.
The England national team hasn’t had much luck over the last few decades, but the increasingly positive performances of their youth teams offers plenty of optimism for the future.
The England U21 side aren’t viewed among the favourites to lift the 2017 European U21 Championship. However, having won the Toulon Tournament back in 2016, overcoming the likes of Portugal, Paraguay and host nation France, they shouldn’t be ruled out to claim their second trophy in two years.
The likes of Lewis Baker, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jack Grealish, Nathaniel Chalobah all excelled at the Toulon Tournament and the squad is likely to remain much the same this summer, offering England’s talented squad the chance to prove themselves as one of the world’s best up-and-coming sides.