The European Championship for under-21 level has now started, with England meeting France in their opener. The match will be kicking off at 9:00pm local time in Cesena, Italy. Both sides are considered one of the favourites heading into the tournament.

England U21’s

England haven’t won this competition since the 1980’s, but their most recent performance in 2017 was an impressive one until they reached the familiar fate of losing a semi-final penalty shoot-out to Germany. England have Premier League winner Phil Foden in midfield, as well as prolific scorer Tammy Abraham who is on loan away from Chelsea at Aston Villa – pivotal in securing them a spot back in the Premier League.

Manager Aidy Boothroyd was in charge for their previous European Championships back in 2017, and will hope to go one better this time around. In qualification, England managed to get one of the highest points tally, and remained undefeated whilst beating the likes of Ukraine, and Scotland, as well as not losing to Netherlands.

France U21’s

Despite being the World Champions in 2018 in senior football, France haven’t been involved at the European Champions at under 21 level since 2006. Then, they were beaten semi-finalists, one of the few times they had reached that far in this competition. They have won it once in their history, way back in 1994 – the same year the senior team couldn’t qualify for the World Cup.

They have looked incredible in qualifying this year though, winning 9 games out of 10, and only drawing the other – finishing 12 points ahead of 2nd place. Arsenal star Matteo Guendouzi plays in midfield for France, and Moussa Dembélé, previously of Celtic, and now a key player at Lyon, will pose as a huge attacking threat for the opposition. The bookmakers have France as one of the favourites, so this should prove to be a fantastic opening game.

Head to Head

The sides have played each five times in their past, with the three most recent being friendlies. France have had the better of England, having won all of those friendlies in 2009 (2-0), 2014 (3-2), and 2016 (3-2). Harry Kane scored a brace in the 2014 clash.

The most significant match that the two teams have played in their history was a European Championship qualifier back in 2005. These games were played over two legs; which France had edged. In England, the first leg finished 1-1, before a return in France finished 2-1 to the hosts. England have lost their last four games against the French, and have never beaten them.

Predictions and Betting Tips

England are slight favourites to win at 6/5, with France priced at 9/5. For the sides to share the spoils, that is priced at 11/5. It’s a tough one to call, with Under 21 Championship tournaments largely unpredictable, but I would back a draw for the best value here. My score line prediction will be 2-2 at 14/1.

For goal scorers, you’d have to back either Tammy Abraham (15/8) or Dominic Calvert-Lewin (9/4) to score at any time. I’d also consider Leicester City’s James Maddison who is at 7/2 to score at any time or, unbelievably 300/1 to score a hat-trick. For France, Moussa Dembele is a prolific scorer, and him to score first in the game is at 4/1. I’m expecting goals either way, so backing there to be more than 3.5 goals at 11/4 seems more than reasonable to me.

Finally, for the tipsters, you can get decent odds backing either team to win with a clean sheet, or win from behind, with odds ranging from 7/2 to 16/1.

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