The clash between Italy and Spain is one of the most interesting in Round 1 of the group stage. These are the two most successful nations in the history of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship and we can expect a good match.
Italy U21 vs. Spain U21
• UEFA European Under-21 Championship
• Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna, Italy
• Sunday 16 June
• 21:00 CET
Italy is the most decorated team at the UEFA European Under-21 Championships and the previous medal they won was silver in 2013 when they lost to their next opponents Spain. The Italians are looking to return to the top of the world football and are investing in their youth system to get them back where they belong.
This is a crucial game to open the group with. Italy has won this tournament five times and in the last edition of the Euro, both Italy and Spain topped their respective groups. Italy then suffered a loss to La Furia Roja in the semis.
Head coach Luigi Di Biagio has some future stars in his squad who already impressed in the season behind us. Moise Kean, Federico Chiesa, Patrick Cutrone, Manuel Locatelli, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and Rolando Mandragora, will lead the team against Spain.
Italy warmed up for the championship with a 2-2 draw against Croatia in the final friendly test. They got to a two-goal lead in the first half through Alessandro Bastoni and Manuel Locatelli but the Croatians responded with two goals in the second 45 minutes.
It was the second straight draw for Di Biagio’s men but despite conceding in three of their last four matches, Italy usually responds on the other end thanks to prolific forwards. Italy has played a total of 17 friendly matches since the end of the last Euro and they have the record of W7 D4 L6, which is not enough if they want to compete for the title here. Their previous win was back in October 2018 and they are without a victory in the last four games.
Spain are looking to secure their fifth title at the European Under-21 Championship and although they fell short two years ago, they already have three in this decade and are always one of the favorites. Luis de la Fuente has a strong team with creative midfield made of talented players as Pablo Fornals, Mikel Oyarzabal, Dani Ceballos, and Carlos Soler. Borja Mayoral is the best scorer in this team and will be targeting Gerard Deloufeu’s record of 17 goals for the U21 National Team. Mayoral needs three more goals to match the record.
Spain won two of their last three appearances at the final tournament but suffered a 1-0 loss to underdogs Germany in 2017. La Furia Roja has advanced to the knockout phase of the tournament in five of their previous six appearances.
In the qualifications, Spain won all but one of their ten games and it was a surprising home loss to the Northern Ireland back in September 2018. Their defeat to Germany in the 2017 Final ended a ten-game unbeaten streak in competitive matches (W7 D3). Spain is on an eight-game winning run in group stage games at the Euros.
Since that loss to Northern Ireland, Spain played six games and won five of them and are on a two-game winning run. They scored 17 goals in that span and allowed only four in return while they kept a clean sheet in the previous two.
The rivals have met eight times so far and Spain dominates with six wins and just one loss. They won the previous five matches against Italy and scored minimum of three goals in four of them. La Furia Roja’s style surely doesn’t suit the Italians and this clash will be the hosts’ biggest test in the competition.
It seems that the Spaniards have a better team and are closer to get a win here but the hosts will give their best to avoid a defeat in the opener. Only because of the home-field advantage, I am going with a draw (3.10/+210) in this one. Italy kept the net intact in only two of their previous ten games but they failed to score just once in the last two years, which is a vital fact if you prefer playing BTTS. Both teams to score is 1.80 (-125) and I wouldn’t be surprised if this tilt ends 1-1.