ADAM GOODWIN (@AGJournalism) is back to share his thoughts on Monday's Group A contest from the European U21 Championship between England and Slovakia.
Slovakia U21 v England U21 | Monday 17:00 | Sky Sports
After a dour opening game, England manager Aidy Boothroyd has declared this one a “must win” game. The Three Lions couldn’t break down a resilient Sweden side in their first group game and only managed one shot on-target.
Slovakia are currently top of Group A after a superb comeback win against Poland on Friday night. They found themselves 1-0 down within the first minute of the game, but substitute Pavol Safranko came off the bench to score the winner with just over 10 minutes remaining.
After the 0-0 against Sweden on Friday, Aidy Boothroyd told the media: “We know we can play better, and we expect to play better next time.” That’s encouraging news for England fans because it couldn’t get much worse.
A poor display that featured few clear-cut chances, Tammy Abraham had a couple of opportunities in front of goal but failed to capitalise. In qualifying, England only conceded three goals in eight games but failed to keep clean sheets when playing arguably the strongest team in the group (Switzerland), who were unlucky to finish third.
With all of the attacking options available to the manager, including Leicester’s Demarai Gray, Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham and Southampton duo Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse, I can’t see this one ending 0-0.
A resilient result against Poland shows that the Slovaks won’t go down without a fight. The early goal spurred them into life and they were the better team throughout most of the game.
Match winner Pavol Safranko has been rumoured to have earnt himself a start after his heroics on Friday night and it could provide Slovakia with an extra offensive selection.
In qualifying, the Falcons featured in some high-scoring games including a 5-0, 4-2 and two 3-1’s. They averaged over three goals per-game and whilst being dangerous in attack they were also leaky in defence, conceding sloppy goals against Belarus and five over the course of two fixtures against Holland.
The Betting Angle
Aidy Boothroyd said before the tournament that he believes his England side “will entertain everyone” and as of yet we are yet to see that – I’m hoping we will against Slovakia on Monday evening.
Slovakia's 2-1 win in their first game will give them momentum and encouragement that they can get finish top of Group A, and even if they fall a goal behind they will have the belief they can peg England back, just as they did to Poland.
With potentially only one team going through in each group, no-one can afford to lose, and I think this will lead to an end-to-end game. And with both teams scoring on average over two goals per-game in qualifying, I can see Both Teams To Score banking at 19/20 (Bet365).
Slovakia U21 v England U21 – Both Teams To Score (19/20 Bet365)