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UEFA European Championship

Top five favourite nations to win UEFA Euro U-21 2023

Published at :June 27, 2023 at 9:37 PM
Modified at :June 27, 2023 at 9:38 PM
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Rajat Chhajta

Germany looks to defend their crown

The biennial international youth football championship was organised by UEFA for the men's Euro U-21. A total of 16 teams are playing in the final tournament, and only players born on or after January 1, 2000, are eligible to participate. The UEFA Euro U-21 2023 is nearing the knockout stage.

With nations looking to earn the U-21 glory, here are the top five favourites to win the UEFA Euro U-21 2023.

5. Italy U-21

The only nation to win three titles in a row and share the overall record of five with Spain. Italy isn’t short of sensations either, with Wilfried Gnonto, Edoardo Bove, Destiny Udogie, and Sandro Tonali all representing a pretty classy and envious roll call. In this group stage, Italy will go through if they avoid defeat and Switzerland does not win.

They have a squad of players who are already established first-team players or upcoming future talents in their respective squads, but they will need to bring their A-game into the knockout stages. They displayed excellent form in the qualifying phase of the UEFA Euro U-21 2023, where they won seven out of the 10 games played and drew another three.

4. Germany U-21

Defending champions Germany will be looking to retain their crown after triumphing two years ago in Ljubljana, with former Manchester City academy graduate Lukas Nmecha bagging the only goal of the final against Portugal. This team equalled Italy's record in 2021 by reaching the final for the third straight tournament.

This year, however, they find themselves in a rift for second place, where they are drawn on points with Israel and the Czech Republic. Going into the final group stage match of the Euro U-21 2023, Germany must win and hope Czechia loses. In that case, Germany and Israel would be split for second place on overall goal difference, then overall goals scored, then disciplinary points, then coefficients.

3. France U-21

Talking about being a clutch team, they have not gone out on the group stage in their four qualifications since that round was introduced. That being said, France, incredibly, has only won the Euro U-21 once, all the way back in 1988. But this time, all that can change as they head to Romania and Georgia with some serious firepower.

Khephren Thuram, Enzo Le Fee, and Michael Olise are all supreme talents who offer dibbling virtuosity, creative stardust, and dazzling improvisation. They not only have a stellar attacking midfield, but they also have Loic Bade, who recently shone for Sevilla in the Europa League final, further back, while Amine Gouiri and Rayan Cherki offer attacking pedigree.

All these names are enough to make them one of the four semi-finalists in the Euro U-21 2023, and they could this time go all the way to win the trophy that has been slipping away from them for so long.

2. England U-21

The Young Three Lions have qualified for the ninth final tournament in a row, everyone since the switch to odd-numbered years in 2007. They had a stellar record before a 2-1 home loss to Slovenia in the last game in their group on June 13, 2022, which ended England's record 54-game unbeaten run in Euro U-21 qualifying, dating back to November 14, 2011.

Lee Carsley’s Lions are stacked with talent, but once again it will be a case of whether the players can gel enough to mount a sustainable assault on the title. Oliver Skipp, Curtis Jones, and Jacob Ramsey have all appeared very regularly for Tottenham, Liverpool, and Aston Villa, respectively. That trio represents a very able and formidable midfield with plenty of experience in the Premier League.

Morgan Gibbs-White, Anthony Gordon, and Emile Smith Rowe will all also be hoping to star, with that trio constituting a pretty skilful, creative, and rapid attack, not to mention Noni Madueke.

1. Spain U-21

UEFA Euro U-21 2023
Spain's U-21 team has won five UEFA Euro U-21 championships

The young Spaniards ended their group strongly, nine points clear of runners-up Slovakia, and now have already qualified for the knockout stages with six points on level terms with Ukraine. Spain, the record holder five times, are once again the outright favourite going into the tournament—and with good reason.

Santi Denia has one of the most promising No. 8s in the game right now with Celta’s Gabri Veiga. Only two U-21 midfielders scored 10 or more league goals in a top-five European division across 2022–23, and Veiga was one of those. La Rojita also has Rodrigo Riquelme and Sergio Gomez to turn to, who are just powerhouse talents on their own.

This Spanish team looks like the classic side that is currently playing some fluent football in the knockout stages and clearly will be one of the sides to watch in the tournament.