Can anyone halt Spain’s bid for U21 glory?

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Now England have been dumped out of the U21 European Championship attention has turned to who is going to win the tournament and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to look beyond Spain.

Julen Lopetegui’s creative young side have a 100 per cent record in the Finals so far and are yet to concede a goal, while none of the other semi-finalists are able to make such claims, explaining Spain’s billing as 5/6 favourites to lift the cup.

It is perhaps unsurprising that La Roja have performed so impressively given that they were unbeaten in qualifying, drawing just one of their ties, and have been broken at the back just once in the lasts 12 matches.

Next up for Spain is 16/1 tournament outsiders Norway, and while the Scandinavians will be confident, having drawn with Italy and beaten England, the latter of those achievements is barely that and recent history suggests Spain will make light work of their rivals.

Last time the two sides met – in March this year – Spain ran out 5-2 winners in a game which one defensive error and an own goal aside was about as one-sided as a match can be.

So, assuming that Spain have a safe passage to the final, the only likely team to offer some resistance to the Armada Invencible appears to be Italy, who face Holland on the other side of the draw.

In order for the Dutch, who are priced at 3/1, to prevail, they would need to dust themselves down from the comprehensive 3-0 loss to Spain in the group stages.

However, even then the men in Orange have already proven they are unable to cope with the reigning champions.

So, if anyone can stop Spain, it looks as though five-time winners and 16/5 shots Italy are the best equipped.

However, after being held by Norway in the final group game and conceding 10 goals in qualifying Spain will still fancy their chances.

It is exactly the sort of defensive frailties that the Azzurri displayed in qualifying that will have three-goal tournament top scorer Alvaro Morata licking his lips in anticipation of firing his country to ultimate success.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.