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England Under 21's Group Stage Review


England Under 21's Group Stage Review

England have been flawless so far at the U21 European Championship and this article will review their group stage performances. What is the most concise way of summarising Lee Carsley’s England U21’s time in Georgia? Three games played, three victories, six goals, none conceded and a place in the knockout stages.

Header logoUEFA U21 Championship - Group C

Team logoEngland
Team logoIsrael
Team logoCzechia
Team logoGermany
Last updated 22/04/2024

Matchday 1: Czech Republic U21 0-2 England U21

England’s tournament opener saw them take on a resilient Czech Republic side. Other than an early Noni Madueke strike from outside the box which struck the crossbar, Czech had the most goal-scoring chances in the first half. James Trafford will take credit for the half time result being goalless as he made two impressive saves, after the Czech attackers continuously found space behind the England backline.

Just one minute after the break, England took the lead via Jacob Ramsey. The Villa man drove forward before playing a quick one-two with Anthony Gordon, who returned the ball with a backheel. Ramsey then calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right from close range. The Three Lions continued to dominate in the second half before Emile Smith Rowe wrapped the game up in the 93rd minute, finishing into an open net from a counterattack.

Matchday 2: England U21 2-0 Israel U21

England’s second game of the tournament can also be described as the Morgan Gibbs-White show. 15 minutes into the first half England opened the scoring with a brilliant header from Anthony Gordon. The Newcastle man was found in the box by Gibbs-White with a clipped cross and the twenty-two-year-old confidently converted.

Israel didn’t cause England any issues throughout the tie and in a similar fashion to the first group game, England’s endless amount of quality prevailed as they were in complete control in the second half. Emile Smith Rowe doubled his goal tally and England’s advantage in the 68th minute just before he was substituted. Curtis Jones, Angel Gomes, Gibbs-White and Smith Rowe all combined with one-touch passes before the latter beat the Israel keeper at his near post from range, in what could arguably be a goal of the tournament contender. England had chances to extend their lead, but the game finished 2-0.

Matchday 3 – England U21 2-0 Germany U21

Despite Carsley changing most of the starting XI, he was still able to field one of the strongest teams in the tournament. At this stage of the groups, England were already guaranteed a spot in the knockout stages, so it was the perfect opportunity to rest legs and give others game time. However, for Germany, this game was a must-win and it was vital that they started quickly. But just three minutes in, Jacob Ramsey played his Villa teammate, Cameron Archer through on goal and he confidently placed the ball home into the bottom right.

Even in the first few minutes, Germany were tactically all over the place and the early England goal deflated them. England continued to knock on the door, and they grabbed their second of the game in the 21st minute. Goalkeeper James Trafford claimed the ball before throwing it to Harvey Elliot in his own half, the Liverpool midfielder drove at the unprotected German backline and reached the opposition’s box where he drilled the ball home past the helpless Noah Atubolu. Both sides had opportunities to score in the first half, but poor finishing meant the half time result remained at 2-0.

Even though Germany had the incentive to score goals, it was England who played with attacking intent in the second half. The opposition didn’t really cause many issues and James Trafford was able to pick up his third clean sheet in three games.

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England @ 9/4

Who starred in the group stage for England?

James Trafford is one of only two players in the England squad to have started all three group-stage games. Trafford has easily cemented himself as the number one and he has simply been brilliant in each game, not just from a shot-stopping perspective but also his dominance and proactivity. He kept England in the game quite a few times, especially in the early stages where his teammates looked a tad rusty. He ended the groups with three clean sheets (the highest in the tournament) and an assist, which is extremely impressive. The Manchester City man will definitely have a huge role to play if England are to reach the latter stages of the Euros.

The second player to have started each game is Chelsea’s, Noni Madueke. The fast, direct, and explosive right winger hasn’t really got out of first gear yet, but he is still dominating opposition full-backs with ease. Despite not registering a goal contribution so far, Madueke has been unstoppable and many of England’s attacking play has come down his right side. The Left footed attacker has shown his ability to get in behind, whilst also displaying his creativity against low blocks, which increases his unpredictability. Jacob Ramsey is another young England star that has shone, with his maturity and experience of weekly Premier League action obvious to see. However, with the quality of each performance it is difficult to highlight all the individuals but what is most promising to see is that they are all combining to create a well-functioning unit.

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Emile Smith-Rowe @ 11/2

Will England Achieve A European Triumph?

England’s next opponent will be Portugal who they will face on Sunday. Although Portugal has plenty of talent in their ranks, England go into the tie as favourites after being the best-performing team in the group stages. Portugal scrapped through a tough group A which included the Netherlands and Belgium, yet it was host nation Georgia that surprisingly finished top of the group.

If England defeat Portugal and progresses, then they will face either Georgia or Israel. This puts England in a strong position and a European Championship final should be on the horizon. France and Spain are the two other big nations on the other side of the bracket who could oppose a threat to England, if they do reach the final, but the Three Lions should be confident having beaten the France squad full of superstars 4-0 recently in a friendly.

The players, the staff and us fans should be optimistic that England can win an international trophy this summer.