European Under-21 Championship - Scouted Football Predicts

With the U21 Euros right around the corner we've asked everyone at Scouted Football to give some insight on the players and teams to watch out for in Poland.

Each contributor has named one Player to Watch and picked their favourites to lift the title — we didn't even share with each other before, so if someone comes up twice, you know they are the real deal.

 Here we go.


Joe Donnohue (@JoeDonnohue)

Player to Watch

Federico Bernardeschi - Italy

Age: 23
Position: Attacking midfielder / Winger
Club: Fiorentina

Calls for him to be included in Azzuri's senior squad are certainly not unfounded after a fantastic 16-17 campaign with Fiorentina.

Italy's likely formation will allow Bernardeschi to operate in his favoured role on the wing. His ability to cut inside and unleash a mean drive or set up Italy's target man is second to none in this competition.

A great technician and dead ball specialist.

 

Tournament Winners

Spain

On paper their squad is exceptionally strong.

Spain's 23 boasts the most Champions League appearances and this experience could be telling. With a core of the team beginning their careers at Castilla and La Masia too, this squad has had one of the finest footballing educations. Expect it to show.

Consider on top of that the number of senior internationals included in this bunch, it's difficult to look past La Seleccíon.


Jake Entwistle (@JakeEntwistle)

Player to Watch

Patrik Schick - Czech Republic

Age: 21
Position: Striker
Club: Sampdoria

Top scorer in qualifying for the tournament, Schik had a superb debut Serie A campaign scoring 11 goals in just 1507 minutes of action.

Sublime technique, deceptive speed and clinical finishing means comparison with the likes Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robin van Persie are not unfounded.

A move to one of Europe's elite is imminent, his performances in Poland may just dictate the price.

 

Tournament Winners

England

Perhaps not the strongest squad en route to Poland at first glance, the Young Lions have some exceptional talent in their ranks — most importantly in every part of the field.

Despite the likes of Marcus Rashford being called up to the senior side, England's front line is still stacked with pace whilst their midfield is tremendously balanced.

U17 Euro finalists, Toulon Tournament winners, U20 World Cup champions... the U21s won't want to let the side down.


Justin Sousa
(@Sousa7474)

Player to Watch

Diogo Jota - Portugal

Age: 20
Position: Attacking Midfield / Winger
Club: Atletico Madrid

Jota

Hidden amongst Portugal’s high profile youngsters like Renato Sanches and Gonçalo Guedes is Atletico Madrid’s Diogo Jota.

An agile attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, Jota has developed into a well known prospect in Portugal and is beginning to turn heads internationally.

Jota’s game is remarkably similar to that of Paulo Dybala in the sense that both prefer to play behind a true number nine and link play from the midfield to the front line.

The Portuguese starlet can also play as in inverted winger, cutting in from the left side to have a shot on goal or provide an option for his team to continue their forward momentum.

His partnership with Gonçalo Paciência is one to watch in Portugal’s U21 EUROs campaign.

 

Tournament Winners

Portugal

Back in 2015, Portugal were left wondering how they let this trophy escape their grasp after losing to Sweden in a penalty shootout.

Now back with vengeance and redemption in mind, Portugal come into this tournament with an experienced side with depth in all areas of the field.

Though the squad is not full of star-studded players like Germany and Spain, the team is functional and plays for one another.

However, players like Renato Sanches, Diogo Jota, and Gonçalo Paciência have the quality to make moments of magic out of nothing and scrape a win or draw for their side.

Portugal will be a force to be reckoned with at this year's European U21 Championship.


Phil Costa (@_PhilCosta)

Player to Watch

Marco Asensio - Spain

Age: 21
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Real Madrid

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It’s hard to look past Marco Asensio. You have to be pretty special to be anywhere near the Real Madrid first team, but he’s come in and made an impact at 21 years of age.

Quick feet, close control, absurd vision and strength to boot – it’s hard to find a more complete midfielder in his age category.

His goal in the Champions League final was the cherry on top of a fantastic first season.

Tournament Winners

Spain

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I’m going to be a bore and say Spain. There are some really talented sides going to Poland, like Serbia, Germany, Italy and even Macedonia, but look at the Spanish roster and you can’t find an area of weakness.

Most of the squad play regularly at the top level, both domestically and in Europe, which will be a huge benefit.

There is also a mix of technical and physical quality from back to front that I just think will prove too much for the others.


Stephen Ganavas (@StephenScouted)

Player to Watch

Nemanja Maksimovic - Serbia

Age: 22
Position: Centre-Midfield
Club: Valencia

If you are a fan of dynamic midfielders, Nemanja Maksimovic of Serbia is the player you need to be tracking at this tournament.

Newly signed by Valencia, Maksimovic was a key component of this Serbian side while they played at U-20 level and won the 2015 U-20 World Cup.

Watch out for his late Lampard-esque arrivals into the penalty area.

 

Tournament Winners

Spain

Spain are absolutely stacked from top to bottom, and only a match-up with Germany, Italy or potentially Serbia should really threaten to derail Spain's hopes of winning this tournament.

Nonetheless, they would go into all three of those games as favourites with the likes of Marco Asensio, Denis Suárez and Saúl Ñiguez joining the squad in Poland for the tournament.


So many exciting squads. So many exciting players.

The 2017 European Under-21 Championship is set to be an incredible tournament and this article is just a glimpse into what we can expect to see in Poland.

Be sure to let us know which side you are backing or which player you are keeping tabs on.

 

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