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The Summer Survival Guide - Part One
Andy (Rangers) 7 years ago
It's that time of the year again. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and joy is in the air. All is well with the world right?

WRONG. The footy is over for another season, and us footy lovers are left pondering whether to watch the snorefest that is cricket or the snorefest that is tennis for the next 10 weeks.

Well, it needn't be that way. In this first part of our summer footy survival guide, I take a look at the UEFA Under 21-Championships, that will be taking place later this month.


The Under 21 equivalent to the European Championships. A showcase of all the young talent across Europe. Hot prospects are followed up by some of the top managers and the world is given a glimpse as to the future of European football.

The competition takes place every 2 years and in the past has acted as a stepping stone for many of today's superstars (Cech, Huntelaar, De Rossi, Gattuso) as well as some legends (Mancini, Zidane, Sukor) In the past, Italy have tended to dominate yet the past two competitions have gone to the Netherlands.

The competition in its current format has seen the following nations win:

Italy- 5 wins
England - 2
Spain - 2
USSR - 2
Netherlands - 2
Czech Republic - 1
France - 1
Yugoslavia - 1

When / What teams are playing?

Group Stage
15th - 23rd June

Group ASwedenGroup BFinland

The fixtures are as follows:
15th June
England v Finland / Spain v Germany
16th June Sweden v Belarus / Italy v Serbia
18th June Germany v Finland / Spain v England
19th June Sweden v Italy / Belarus v Serbia
22nd June Finland v Spain / Germany v England
23rd June Serbia v Sweden / Belarus v Italy

Semi-Finals 26th June
Winner of Group A v Runner-up of Group B
Winner of Group B v Runner-up of Group A

- 29th June
Semi-Final Winner I v Semi-Final Winner II

The tournament is being hosted by Sweden, three Swedish league stadiums are being used which vary in capacity between 15,000 and 24,000. They are located in: Malmo, Helsingborg and Halmstad

Players to watch out for
There are many players featuring in the competition who could run away with the golden boot or player of the tournament awards. Keep an eye out for:

Marcus Berg (Sweden) 
Club Groningen
The Groningen Striker has been a regular feature in the Eredivisie since joining from Goteborg in 2007. He has scored 38 goals in 61 appearances and has cemented his place in the Groningen first team. He is one of the oldest players in the Swedish squad and certainly will lead from the front
Sebastian Giovinco (Italy) 
Club Juventus
The 5ft4 attacking midfielder is tipped as the next big thing in Europe. He has represented Italy at every youth level from U-16 upwards and during his time at Juventus has shown great skill and technique, mesmerising dribbling coupled with glorious assists has made him the stand-out player of the season for Juve.
Zoran Tosic(Serbia) 
Club On loan at Partizan from MU
Tosic moved to Manchester United from Partizan in 2007 and is the most high-profile player in the Serbian squad. Tosic is famed for his fierce free-kicks and strenuous work ethic. Tosic will dictate play and will be integral to Serbia if they are to make ground in the championships
Mikhail Afanasyev (Belarus) 
Club Amkar Perm [Russia
Afanasyev is the captain of the Belorussian team, he plays in midfield and has scored 6 goals in 14 appearances for the U-21s. He has made 12 appearances for the RPD team Amkar and is attempting to break into the first team squad. He will be the playmaker for Belarus and is tipped for stardom in Russia
Tim Sparv(Finland) 
Club Halmstads
The midfielder spent 3 years of his youth career at Southampton’s famed football academy. He often made reserve appearances but squad size prevented Sparv from breaking into the main squad. He engineered a move to Swedish side Halmstads BK in 2007, playing 28 games since but it has been marred by illness. He has scored 4 goals in 11 games for the Finland U-21s and seems assured on the ball, performing well on the international stage.
Bojan Krkic (Spain) 
Club Barcelona
Undoubtedly the most recognisable face in the list, Bojan has made a name for himself on the global football stage through top-class performances for European giants Barcelona.With Immense dribbling being complimented by impeccable finishing, Bojan is the hottest European prospect at the minute. The competition will give him an opportunity to justify the hype.
Theo Walcott (England) 
Club Arsenal
With Gabriel Agbonlahor’s recent lapse in form, many English hopes will be resting with the Arsenal winger. He has had another solid season with Arsenal and enjoyed a hat-trick against Croatia on travels with the main England squad. Classy first touches and blinding pace are met with silky finishing as seen against Villarreal in the Champions league. He will be operating within his element in the competition and the high-tempo pace will definitely suit Theo.
Manuel Neuer (Germany) 
Club Schalke
The Schalke goalie has been tipped as the next Oliver Kahn and has recently been called up to the German national squad. Recipient of “Best Bundesliga Goalkeeper” in 2007, Neuer has already established himself within German football. He will have his hands full come June and Germany’s chances of success will ultimately rest with him. He has the ability to win the tournament and will undoubtedly put the effort in.

Most Likely Winners
If you're thinking of making things a little more interesting and taking a punt on the likely winners, here is our rundown of the average odds:

Group A Outright Winner
Spain -6/4
England - 7/4
Germany - 5/2
Finland - 12/1

Group B Outright Winner
Italy - 4/5
Serbia - 7/2
Sweden - 4/1
Belarus - 6/1

Torunament Outright Winner
Spain - 3/1
Italy - 10/3
England - 7/2
Germany - 11/2
Serbia - 13/2
Sweden - 9/1
Belarus - 20/1
Finland - 40/1
Krom87 (Chelsea) 7 years ago
Where is Russia?
Andy (Rangers) 7 years ago
Russia failed to qualify sadly, other big names who failed include France, Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Portugal and Holland
Darius (Southampton) 7 years ago
I can't believe Berg is one of the oldest on his national squad. They should be a force come 2014
Omar (Arsenal) 7 years ago
This years' UEFA u-21 seems like a great tournament.  Great young players in a lot of top clubs already!
Stverocha (Benfica Lisbon) 7 years ago
This is very exciting.... Adem Ljajic looks legit, I can't think of a player he reminds me of most just yet but I think he has got some game....
And the move by Bojan is the type of creativity that few have.... Excellent stuff
Yombe10 (Arsenal) 7 years ago
Haha, I can't believe you just said the word legit
Stverocha (Benfica Lisbon) 7 years ago
Different part of the world I guess.... But it still means I'm excited for whats to come!
Zspyk007 (Barcelona) 7 years ago
I think Russia is east of Europe but I'm not sure...
Andy (Rangers) 7 years ago
Russia isn't a member of the European Union but it is a member of UEFA
Agspiratos (Panathinaikos Athens) 7 years ago
Giovinco is good but not great. Walcott is probably the best, yes, way better than krkic
Darius (Southampton) 7 years ago
Walcott doesn't finish in the box as well as Bojan though
Agspiratos (Panathinaikos Athens) 7 years ago
Maybe but bojan does miss (could've put chelsea to bed at the camp but missed an open header) I just like walcott more
Nikki711 (Real Madrid) 7 years ago
You just think walcott is sexier. Lol but he is pretty impressive
DerKaiser (Bayern München) 7 years ago
Great thread! Look to see Germany performing better this time around with 2 star players Marko Marin and Mesmut Özil!    
Bluee (Feyenoord) 7 years ago
So unfortunate Holland didn't qualify. They cannot defend their title :S
ForzaAzzuri (Napoli) 7 years ago
How is Spain a tourney favourite? Who do they even have?
Andy (Rangers) 7 years ago
Like it or not, Spain are damn efficient and proved it in the qualifying stages.

They were drawn in Qualifying Group 4 with Russia, Poland, Kazakhstan and Georgia, one of the harder groups of the qualifiers.

The Spanish squad won all 8 games, scored 21 goals and only shifted 2.

As mentioned in the original post, Bojan's talents are undeniable but Newcastle flop Xisco is vicious on the international stage, as is Jurado. Then you have Miguel Torres, Capel, Raul Garcia and Merida.... Bags of talent!
Thirstytraveler (Chelsea) 7 years ago
Snorefest lol
Andy (Rangers) 7 years ago
Looks like UEFA have copied my post!


Written 10th June......

They had the cheek to use 4 of the same players I disagree with their other selections though
Andy (Rangers) 7 years ago
Competition kicks off tomorrow (Monday 15th) so make sure you tune in. SkySports1 will be showing every game yet I'm unsure who owns the rights in the USA.

I will also be posting player ratings for each England game if anyone is interested
Santillanavila (Tottenham Hotspur) 7 years ago
Tennis is not a snorefest if sharapova plays
Ozzy1998afc (Arsenal) 7 years ago
Make one of the Egyptian talent Mohammed Zidan he plays for Egypt and borrusia dortmand in germany he is the hitman and a half of any team and can finish with so much style. Many of you may not agree with me on this but he is quility and the prem before anybody says anything is not the only league in the whole world so dorks get a life

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