ADAM GOODWIN (@AGJournalism) is back to share his thoughts on Thursday's Group A finale from the European U21 Championship between England and hosts Poland.
Poland U21 v England U21 | Thursday 19:45 | Sky Sports
The final game in Group A will see England come up against hosts Poland. After their win against Slovakia on Monday evening, England know that three points on Thursday night will see them through to the semi-finals.
Poland will need to beat England by two or more goals, and rely on the Slovakia and Sweden game ending in a draw to finish top of the group. Their defeat to Slovakia on the opening day of the tournament could prove costly.
A valiant performance from the Young Lions on Monday saw them comeback from a 1-0 deficit at half time, to win their game against Slovakia 2-1. Strikes from Alfie Mawson and Nathan Redmond completed the turnaround but it was far from convincing.
As of yet, we still haven’t seen the “exciting” England side that Aidy Boothroyd promised before the tournament. In both games, they have lacked creativity and Tammy Abraham has been void of much service, two things that will make it hard for England to defeat the likes of Germany and Spain, should they get through the group stages.
I can see another cagey performance from England. With Poland’s inability to defend in both their previous group games, Demarai Gray, Nathan Redmond and the likely introduction of Jacob Murphy into the England starting XI, will cause them problems.
A 91st minute equaliser against Sweden in their last game has given Poland faint hope of reaching the semi-finals. With it looking almost impossible that they’ll finish as the best second-placed team, they need to get all three points here.
The White Eagles have been underwhelming as the host nation, accumulating just the one point from two games; scoring three goals (one penalty) and conceding four. In both games in the group, they’ve scored first and have failed to win the game, which is down to a mixture of defensive incapability and lack of concentration, which England will be sure to capitalise on.
Poland have a lot less in attack than Sweden and Slovakia do, and they’ll find it hard to break down a resolute England side in Kielce. I can’t see Poland getting out of the group, despite the home advantage.
The betting angle
England would be silly to head into this game all guns blazing. They need to win but can afford to bide their time, a goal against a leaky Poland side will come eventually.
I’m confident that the Three Lions will win this game – they haven’t lost a competitive game in over a year – but price of 4/7 is too skinny, for me.
I don’t think Poland will score against an England back-four that contains Callum Chambers and Alfie Mawson, both of whom have looked more than competent up to now.
I considered backing England to win ‘to nil’ but I’ve opted for a slightly safer bet in England to win and Under 3.5 Goals, which is 31/20 with BetStars. The chances of England scoring four or more looks unlikely after the first two group games, and I can see a cagey game that England will scrape through to reach the semi-finals.
England U21 v Poland U21 – England to win and Under 3.5 Goals (31/20 BetStars)