European Under-21 Championship Group B comes to a nerve-racking climax on Sunday as England need to defeat Czech Republic to secure a spot in the semi-finals…
The last few months have represented the most difficult period of Stuart Pearce’s on the whole hugely successful reign as England Under-21s boss, with just two victories achieved in their last eight fixtures.
A failure to improve that form at the start of their Danish adventure, being held to draws by both favourites Spain and unfancied Ukraine, has left them with much work to do but there is plenty of reason to fancy them at 11/10.
Pearce has led the Young Lions in this competition twice before and on both occasions reached the knockout stages, while Czech Republic were outplayed far more by Spain on Wednesday than England were in their opener.
The head-to-head statistics are similarly encouraging for England, who have faced the physical Czechs twice before under Pearce without tasting defeat, winning the most recent encounter 2-0 in 2008.
If you believe that the tables will be turned this time around though odds of 5/2 are available on a triumph for the Czechs, who are 23/10 to settle for the point that they need.
In each of the aforementioned two meetings, England have kept clean sheets and they are 6/4 to once again keep a clean sheet, while a price of 12/5 is offered on them winning to nil.
All four of their prior showdowns have featured under 2.5 goals, as have each of England’s first two games in Group B, so it’s no surprise that another low-scoring clash is expected at 4/6.
Daniel Sturridge has yet to score in the tournament but tested Ukraine numerous times last time out from long range and is the standout option to break the deadlock at 9/2.