Euro Under-19s – England will find Spanish semi-final no cruise
After their countrymen won the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Tour de France, Spain’s troop of under-19 footballers could be forgiven for thinking the European Championships is theirs to claim.
But in the way will be a spirited England side, who scored a last-minute equaliser against France to book their place in the last four.
After a win, a loss and a draw in their group games, Noel Blake’s boys could look at the match with Spain – who have a 100 per cent record in the competition – as mission impossible.
However, with Arsenal’s skilled left-back Tom Cruise in their team, as well as Aston Villa’s Nathan Nathan Delfouneso up front, an upset last-four win is not out of reach.
19-year-old Cruise, who scored in England’s 3-2 win over Austria in their first game, said: “There’s such a good feeling among us, [the France game] was like a win really.”
Having trained with Cesc Fabregas at the Emirates, though, Cruise has a bit of insider knowledge on Spanish football that could be of use, especially when he’s matched up against Thiago Alcantara, who, like the Arsenal captain, has been brought up by Barcelona.
Alcantara scored a neat goal in Spain’s 2-1 win over Croatia and was a member of the successful Spanish team from the under-17 Euro Champiosnhips two years ago.
With a 3-0 win over Italy in their last game, it seems highly likely we’ll see another Spanish victory. 1-0, the score England lost to Holland, is 5/1.
In the tournament’s other semi, which kicks off at 6.00pm, France take on Croatia, with Les Bleus looking to restore some pride in the shirt after the senior team’s World Cup debacle.
Having scored 10 goals and not lost a match at this tournament so far, Gael Kakuta’s France are understandably 8/11 favourites to win in 90 minutes.
Yet having beaten Portugal 5-0, Croatia (16/5) should not be written off.