Another tournament, another big English success this summer.
However, the country of England were not the only big winners at the conclusion of the U-19 European Championship. A number of individuals excelled at this tournament, laying down a marker for successful and meaningful careers in the world of senior football, notably those from Georgia and the Czech Republic, many of whom were relatively unknown to us at Scouted Football before the beginning of this tournament.
Without further ado, here is the Scouted Football U-19 Euro Team of the Tournament.
GK: JUSTIN BIJLOW
While most tipped Ferdi Kadioglu, Javairo Dilrosun, and Joel Piroe to grab the headlines for the Netherlands at the start of this tournament, there is a strong argument that Justin Bijlow was the standout player of this Dutch side.
Bijlow was incredibly quick to shut down players in one-on-one situations and showed great agility and reflexes to prevent close range efforts from finding the back of the net. Bijlow denied both Aymen Barkok and Mason Mount from six yards out with a quick run off his line and a wide spread of his body to close down all shooting angles. Confidence and decisiveness are often two traits goalkeepers perfect over time, but Bijlow shows no doubt in his abilities or decisions when he steps onto the pitch. His maturity, however, can be called into question after a risky decision shoots him in the foot, but the energy and charisma he radiates makes watching this goalkeeper’s individual performances enjoyable and refreshing.
Most may argue that the failure to preserve one clean sheet should be held against Bijlow, but, in terms of individual ability, Bijlow was undoubtedly the most talented goalkeeper at the U19 Euro. The hope for Bijlow after this tournament is that Feyenoord take his performances into consideration and allow him to mature with more minutes in the Eredivisie. Next season could be Bijlow’s time to solidify a permanent role as his boyhood club’s first choice goalkeeper.
LB: LIBOR HOLIK
One Scouted admin calls Libor Holik ‘#TheTruth’. While that may be something of an exaggeration, there is no doubt that the Czech full-back was one of the most dominant players at this tournament.
Holik’s goal and two assists in four matches highlighted his approach to playing as a full-back - he loves nothing more than getting forward. Arguably asked to charge forward more often than usual due to the lack of creative options in the Czech offense, the Slavia Prague prospect displayed a strikingly pinpoint range of crosses - on both feet! Yes, after being forced onto the left-side of defence - away from the right where he started the tournament - Holik demonstrated that his delivery on his left was equally devastating to that of his right-foot.
Defensively there are still questions to be asked about Holik for the future. He struggled to maintain an effective balance between defence and attack, at times. Part of this can be linked to his role in the team, but at times he placed too much pressure on his team-mates to drop in and fill the space he left behind as he marauded forward. Despite this, his on-ball defending was routinely solid. He is a tall full-back and is not lacking in pace either.
LCB: TREVOH CHALOBAH
Imposing would be a wonderful way to describe England’s Trevoh Chalobah. Tall, strong and willing to embrace the physical aspect of defending, it was apparent from the outset that Chalobah would be a mismatch for any striker matched up against him at this tournament. Disappointingly, the Chelsea youth prospect was forced off with injury early in England’s third group game, but he showed more than enough in the first two games to warrant a selection in our TOTT.
In just one televised game against the Netherlands, the English centre-back displayed that was not only a powerful presence; dominant in the air and man-to-man. Not only that, he also showcased his deft touch, willingness to charge forward and ability to spread the play long. While he has a long way to go to reach Leonardo Bonucci levels of defence-splitting long pass accuracy, there is clearly a foundation there to develop that is quite astounding (almost unheard of) for someone of his size and build.
We did not get to see enough of Chalobah, but he may have the highest ceiling of any player at this tournament if he is able to make the leap forward into senior football.
RCB: ALEX KRAL
Alex Kral’s gangly frame and Sideshow Bob-esque hair-cut juxtaposes jarringly with his style of play. The Czech defender plays a composed game centred around his composure and positioning. In this TOTT line-up, he provides a wonderful foil to Chalobah in that sense as he is able to sit back and read the play, mopping up any danger that manages to evade the clutches of the aggressive Englishman. The Slavia Prague youngster likes to burst forward in a similar style to Chalobah though, with his deceptive turn of pace and his prowess in the box at set-piece opportunities.
While he prefers to read the game, Kral proved he was capable aerially and physically. He set an example for his team-mates and at times seemed to act as a de-facto leader on the pitch despite not being captain of his team. Furthermore, the Czech’s maintained one of the most solid defences of the tournament and were the only team that looked capable of locking eventual champions England out for long periods of time. Kral played an integral role in that, keeping England’s Ben Brereton quiet for the hour he spent on the pitch, while almost nicking a goal for himself at the other end. Kral was not at fault for the eventual England goal in the final minute of stoppage time that sent his team packing.
RB: DIOGO DALOT
Portugal’s youth squad have not been the most compact sides when it comes to defending, but Diogo Dalot reminds us all of what it was like when a fullback had a defense first mentality. While offensive contribution is obviously necessary for a modern day fullback, Dalot’s defensive work rate is a huge reason as to why they made it the final.
There is a wonderful maturity about Dalot that calms the Portuguese backline and allows them to work an attack from back to front. On the ball, Dalot uses his tidy ball control to push his team forward and evade oncoming pressure from opposition forwards. He often catches defenders by surprise with how fast he is both on and off the ball given the patience he shows when deciding the right moments to go join the attack. Defensively, this enables him to cheat and cut passing lanes rather than man mark because of he has no problem tracking back. Dalot also has no problem with making a crunching challenge on forwards, exhibiting his slide tackling expertise on more than one occasion.
Having now featured for both the under-20 and under-19 sides at two major competitions, it seems it is only a matter of time before Dalot gets a look at by the Porto first team. Given their track record of producing offensive fullbacks such as Danilo and Alex Sandro, Porto will have to grow accustomed to Dalot’s defensive nature. At youth level for Porto, however, Dalot has shown he can be a lethal provider from the wide positions and can easily refine his offensive contribution over the next two or three seasons in Portugal.
CDM: GIORGI KUTSIA
While Georgia’s offensive trio of Giorgis captivated us with their skill, technique, intelligence, and overall brilliance, Giorgi Kutsia allowed for their brilliance by recovering and recycling possession in midfield. While being a “destroyer” type of holding midfielder is not the most glamorous job in football, Kutsia continued to remind us just how important that position is to a successful team.
Kutsia is an interesting play-breaking midfielder in the sense that he combines an instinctive positional awareness and excellent passing range with his natural engine and ability to cover a lot of ground in a short time. When recovering possession, Kutsia emulates the attributes of Tiemoue Bakayoko in that, despite his lesser stature, he can bulldoze through midfielders. His positional awareness is top notch as well, preserving his energy for when he needs to haul back with his defenders when opponents begin a counter attack. Kutsia’s passing range is also quite exceptional but more to the point where it’s functional and gets the job done rather than being the final ball that sends a forward through on goal.
His overall game is strengthened by his ability to carry the ball and knowledge of when and where to release possession. Some holding midfielders tend to win the ball back for their side but then pass it to the first available teammate regardless of their positioning. Unlike those midfielders, Kutsia remains composed on the ball and has shown he is capable of dribbling on his own and winning fouls in dangerous areas. Giorgi Kutsia is a Giorgi not to forget.
LCM: FILIP HAVELKA
Czech midfielder Filip Havelka quietly went about his business at the U-19 Euro without pulling up any massive trees, but he was consistently frustrating the opposition with his defensive efforts, while hurting them with an excellent passing range in the opposite direction. At Scouted, we take notice of that. Havelka’s willingness to assist the back-line not only bolstered numbers, but also allowed Libor Holik to push forward and star at this tournament. Havelka is a facilitator in every sense and a real team player.
His eye for a cross-field ‘Hollywood’ pass was also instrumental in allowing the Czech Republic’s dangerous wide players to gain possession in space. His short passing game was slightly less adventurous, but allowed the Czechs to slow down the game and take control of the tactical battle - which they did in their semi-final defeat to England; a match they were criminally unfortunate not to win.
RCM: MASON MOUNT
England’s Mason Mount was the undisputed best player of the tournament. The Chelsea youth prospect played five consistently high-quality games and was vital in garnering results in a number of them. His involvement in five goals at the tournament, including four assists, highlighted that he is not only a creative player and fabulous link between midfield and attack, but that he is able to convert that into setting up his team-mates for gilt-edged chances, as he did regularly throughout the tournament.
Mount’s impressive tournament was headlined by his tidy close control, intricate and sharp movement between the lines and his ability to make plays from the half-spaces. His presence gave fluidity to an otherwise very structured English attack and constantly created space for his compatriots to work into. He smashed the structure of the Portuguese back-line in the tournament, especially on the counter-attack where he often produced his best work.
Credit must also be given to the English coaches and Mount’s midfield colleagues, whose tactics and defensive efforts respectively allowed him the license to create.
LW: RYAN SESSEGNON
Fulham fans know Sessegnon best for his defensive work at left back, while England’s U19 coaching staff know him more as a slick left winger. Overall, the divided opinion on where Sessegnon plays best justifies the claim that he is one of the most versatile and well-rounded young players in the world. Since England utilized Sessegnon as a left wing for this tournament, here is low the down on what he does right and what he does wrong in that position.
Sessegnon loves to take a defender one-on-one and, in most cases, will come out on top in that battle with his electric pace and controlled dribbling. His pace becomes even more difficult for defenders to contend when he makes runs in between channels to latch onto a through ball. Against Germany, he did just that when Mason Mount sent a lovely weighted chip pass for Sessegnon to run onto and finish off with a splendid half-volley. However, Sessegnon can be terribly one-footed at times and shows an odd reluctance to cross the ball for a wide player. While his crossing has historically never been as pristine as you would expect from a left wing, it is shocking to see how carelessly he gives away possession with a bad ball. His one-footedness also makes him easier for defenders to pressure, allowing them to force him onto his weaker right foot and pounce on a bad touch.
The question coming out of this tournament now is where do Fulham play Sessegnon come opening day in the Championship? Their lack of depth at left back is the reason for his introduction to the position, but he has showcased immense promise further up the field for England and when playing there for Fulham. Although Sessegnon is just 17-years old, the sooner he solidifies a definite position the smoother his growth and development will become at the professional level.
ST: VIKTOR GYOKERES
While the likes of Joel Piroe or Ben Brereton boast a hat trick or late goal scoring form at this this year’s U19 Euro, none compare to overall completeness of Viktor Gyokeres’ game. The Swedish forward has everything you could possibly ask for from a hold up striker with his massive presence and knack for being in the right place at the right time in the box. Sweden were knocked out of the competition early this time around, but Gyokeres has done no harm to his stock after three matches.
Gyokeres embodies the typical bulky center forward Sweden have become accustomed to with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and John Guidetti. His volleyed goal against Portugal optimized the meaning of a target forward, as he muscled off Joao Queiros to chest down a long ball and smash it into the roof of Diogo Costa’s net. That goal also illustrated his splendid technique when striking the ball, as well as the different ways he can punish a team when given a sniff of goal. Gyokeres has also shown that he has the poacher’s instinct, making a late run into the box to dispatch a withdrawn cross from a teammate as done against the Czech Republic. We would never go as far as to say this could be Sweden’s next Zlatan, but Gyokeres has the potential to be something special for national team.
With three goals from three games, Gyokeres finished as the tournament’s joint top goalscorer and with an impressive conversion rate from just five shots on target. Even if the scouts weren’t attracted towards a rather lackluster Swedish side this time around, Viktor Gyokeres can still build his portfolio for a big move with a decent season at Brommapojkarna in Sweden next year.
RW: GIORGI CHAKVETADZE
Giorgi Chakvetadze looks rather special. Along with Giorgi Arabidze, Chakvetadze was the most technically breathtaking player at this tournament. His ability to carry the ball in midfield and glide past opposition players allowed Georgia to break with lightning speed and meant they had a chance in every match, despite often being outgunned.
As the link between defence and attack, Chakvetadze’s impact was the sole reason why Georgia had a chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds. Without him on the field, they were strikingly disjointed. With him, everything seemed to flow. Giorgi Kokrheidze was able to rest on the shoulder of the last man, Giorgi Arabdize was able to roam and Chakvetadze willingly facilitated whenever he had the ball with precise delivery.
He seemed to gravitate to wherever the ball would drop and was hungry for any loose ball that could be turned into a positive counter-attack. However, his skillset looks like it could be easily transferable to a slower, possession-based style of play. Like Mason Mount, Chakvetadze has a knack for popping up in dangerous areas and making plays.
Ramsdale, though often untested by opposition forwards, was superb when called upon to make the odd save from time to time. He provided excellent leadership for an ever changing England backline and assured them with confident goalkeeping all tournament.
The English shot-stopper is definitely one of the bulkier ‘keepers at this tournament, but his reactions to get down to driven shots are surprisingly quick. Ramsdale also benefits from a wide wingspan and an incredible ability to stretch himself when needed. One-on-one situations are often difficult to win against Ramsdale as well seeing how he manages to make himself even bigger when rushing towards forwards with arms and legs spread.
Bournemouth will be pleased with the fine form their goalkeeping prodigy found for England and will hopefully include him in the remainder of their preseason. The signing of Asmir Begovic from Chelsea most likely dampens any chances he had of challenging Artur Boruc for the number one spot, but he can always fight for an opportunity in the domestic cups and as Begovic’s understudy during the Premier League season.
Sweden’s tiny left-back Anton Kralj made up for his small stature with some instinctive gut-running and tidy positioning throughout his country’s U-19 Euro campaign.
In the same way that his height will always be a glowing concern, Kralj’s huge engine will always be a positive. He hustles up and down that left-side for 90 minutes without slowing down and he was able to tee up some nice opportunities for the Swedish attackers, namely Viktor Gyokeres.
His assist to Gyokeres in the final group game defeat showcased everything exciting about Kralj’s game. He combined his burst of pace with his neat crossing ability, but most importantly, it was late in the game with his team down 2-0. He never gives up.
Tournament winning captain? Check. Consistent displays at left-back? Check. Scouted Football U-19 Euro Team of the Tournament? Check.
If a player returns home with those three things ticked off, they know they can be proud of their efforts. Jay Da Silva's sensational synergy with Ryan Sessegnon was one of the highlights of the tournament. The perfect partner providing width when Sessegnon wanted to drift inside, or underlapping to isolate the opposition full-back on the touchline. Da Silva was the catalyst for Sessegnon's performances and gave him the opportunities and space to terrorise defenders; he did not disappoint. In fact, Da Silva is probably more technically polished than the Fulham youngster ahead of him, and his experience at top-level youth tournaments with Chelsea was evident.
He looked composed and assured throughout, and despite some difficulties in defence, overall Jay Da Silva was the perfect full-back package. Rarely beaten, always reliable and an asset in every part of the pitch.
He was the underrated leader that glued England’s title-winning team together.
DANI DE WIT
Similar to Kutsia’s role with Georgia, De Wit provided a strong and physical presence for the Netherlands when defending counter attacks. As Kadioglu and Kongolo continued to push further up the field to try and get on the ball, De Wit would sit ready to pounce on a loose pass or change the point of attack with a cross-field ball.
De Wit was a mainstay for the Dutch midfield and for good reason. The Ajax product never shied away from a challenge, serving as the team’s mediator when their opponents were beginning to pick up steam. While he doesn’t possess the same technical prowess as Giorgi Kutsia, De Wit does offer more strength and security in front of his defense. It is hard to remember when De Wit was beaten by a forward without him either committing a technical foul or simply winning the ball back with a tackle. When the going got tough for the Netherlands, De Wit got going.
If De Wit starred for this under-19 side this summer, it is more than likely we will see him make a few cameos for Ajax’s first team next season. With the departure of Davy Klaassen from the center of midfield, De Wit will hope to make his way up the pecking order and hopefully find himself as a first team regular come next June.
Many remember Domingos Quina as the Portuguese wonder who decided to sign with West Ham United rather than remain at Chelsea’s academy. Quina is an extremely talented midfielder, but there is a certain feeling that the hype this drama built around him made Quina out to be a luxurious midfielder that scores goals and slices defenses with his passes. While these traits may develop later on, they are not the defining features of his style of play.
Quina is an efficient, hardworking box-to-box midfielder that possesses great technical ability and wards off pressure from defenders well. The Portuguese midfielder can be a crafty dribbler at times with the way he skips by challenges and burns defenders with his change of speed. Guilty at times for holding possession longer than necessary, Quina is still an excellent workhorse defensively. Quina’s passing range showed well in the semifinals as his dictatorship of midfield nullified Ferdi Kadioglu and Rodney Kongolo’s involvement for the Dutch. His movement also ensures that there is always an outlet or pocket of space for a teammate to find, allowing Portugal to continue their build-up play.
The downside to Quina’s game is the lack of end product. Everyone is aware of his individual capabilities and he has shown on more than one occasion for West Ham’s youth sides that he can strike a ball from distance. His selflessness often sees him waste shooting opportunities, preferring to play a negative ball back to a deep midfielder or defender and restarting the attack. If Quina starts to contribute more goals and direct assists in his next season with West Ham, he absolutely has a shot at breaking into the first team before he hits 20-years old.
Giorgi Arabidze was this tournament’s X-Factor player. While Chakvetadze and Giorgi Kokhreidze played with great intelligence, it was their counterpart on the right-wing who was often the go-between.
The Georgian combines his lightning speed and superb dribbling technique to great effect, stretching opposition defences and creating space for team-mates to zone into. Along with Kokhreidze, this creation of space played an integral role in allowing Chakvetadze to shine at this tournament.
In Georgia’s opening game defeat against Portugal, not only was the 19-year-old the best player on the field, he also displayed a willingness to lead his team with Kokhreidze and Chakvetadze off the field. His relentless running and set-piece taking ability almost carried his country to a point.
Nottingham Forest’s breakthrough player from last season found it difficult to break into this England setup at the start of the tournament, but his goal scoring touch came just in time for his nation to progress from the group stage with ease.
Brereton was the perfect center piece to England’s front trio, holding up play and waiting for the runs of Isaac Buckley-Ricketts and Ryan Sessegnon behind the backline. From there, the poacher’s instinct turned on and Brereton continued his late runs into the box as England attacked their opponents with crosses from the wings. The lanky striker could have benefited from better service from his wingers throughout the tournament, but it was just his presence in the box that wreaked havoc for defenders as there was another man for them to mark.
Seeing as Brereton already became a regular for Nottingham last season and has had a fairly decent U19 Euros, the expectation is that manager Mark Warburton will continue to feed his rising star more minutes. His goal poaching could be the perfect solution to the any offensive struggles Nottingham endured over the course of last season.