MX23RW : Monday, June 14 10:04:37| >> :600:1352386:1352386:
Mar 31, 2021 at 5pm UK at Stadion Maksimir
Croatia U21sCroatia Under-21s
1-2
England U21sEngland Under-21s
Bradaric (90+1')
Ivanusec (12'), Bradaric (45+3'), Spikic (62'), Zaper (87'), Biscan (90+3')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Eze (12' pen.), Jones (74')
Kelly (45'), Jones (48'), Tanganga (85'), Skipp (90')
Jones (90+8')

Preview: Croatia Under-21s vs. England Under-21s - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's European Under-21 Championship clash between Croatia Under-21s and England Under-21s, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

England Under-21s and Croatia Under-21s lock horns on Wednesday, in the last game of the European Under-21 Championship group stage.

Aidy Boothroyd's men have had an underwhelming campaign, having lost their first two games, while their opponents will be looking to confirm their qualification with another win, although the Young Lions could still progress with a dominant scoreline.


Match preview

England Under-21s boss Aidy Boothroyd pictured in November 2019© Reuters

Croatia Under-21s boosted their hopes of progressing to the final eight of the European Under-21 Championship last time out, as they defeated Switzerland Under-21s 3-2.

The game looked all but settled on the hour mark, as Luka Ivanusec, Nikola Moro and Dario Vizinger had given them a three-goal lead, but a Kastriot Imeri penalty and an 89th-minute Sandro Kulenovic own goal provided plenty of nerves.

Nevertheless, that got the points tally up and running for Igor Biscan's side, after they lost narrowly in the first game to Portugal Under-21s, as Fabio Vieira netted the only goal of the game in the second half.

Biscan's team now come into this game hoping for a victory which should see them finish in the top two and advance to the final eight, but that is all dependent on the result of Switzerland, who sit level on both points and goal difference, but trail due to the head-to-head 3-2 defeat.

Meanwhile, England Under-21s will be desperate for a big win, which could see them sneak into the final eight.

England Under-21 striker Eddie Nketiah celebrates scoring against Turkey with teammates in the UEFA Euro 2021 qualifiers on October 13, 2020© Reuters

For the second consecutive European Championship, Aidy Boothroyd has come under fire for a dismal campaign with England Under-21s, having failed to win a group game in either tournament.

The Young Lions started this group stage off with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Switzerland Under-21s, as Dan Ndoye's 77th-minute strike was deflected over Aaron Ramsdale.

That was followed by a much more convincing 2-0 defeat to Portugal Under-21s, as Dany Mota opened the scoring before Francisco Trincao netted a penalty to put the game out of sight.

As a result, Boothroyd's side's hopes of qualification to the final eight are now extremely slim, however it is still mathematically possible, as long as Switzerland Under-21s lose their game against group leaders Portugal Under-21s.

If the Young Lions can win by three goals on Wednesday, they will go level on points and goal difference with their opponents, meaning they will finish above them due to the head-to-head result.

That looks extremely unlikely at this stage, though, especially given their poor form in this competition, as they take on a strong Croatia Under-21s outfit who will have their sights set on a win to secure their spot in the final eight.

Croatia Under-21s European Under-21 Championship form:
  • L
  • W

Croatia Under-21s form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W

England Under-21s European Under-21 Championship form:
  • L
  • L

England Under-21s form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L


Team News

England Under-21 players celebrate Callum Hudson-Odoi's goal against Andorra in the European qualifiers on November 13, 2020© Reuters

Croatia Under-21s made alterations to their shape for the game against Switzerland Under-21s, as Hrvoje Babec came into the side to strengthen the midfield.

That system could be used again on Wednesday, with Dario Vizniger expected to act as a lone striker, having scored a crucial goal in that recent win.

He will be supported by the attacking threat of midfielder Nikola Moro, who also netted a goal in that crucial victory last time out.

The goalkeeper was also changed for the second group game, as Dominik Kotarski came into the side in place of Adrian Semper, who was dropped to the bench.

The England Under-21 cause has not been helped by several injuries, as Leicester City defender James Justin and Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood were both ruled out of the group stage, after they both played major roles in helping the Young Lions through qualifying.

Furthermore, Bayern Munich prospect Jamal Musiala recently pledged allegiance to Germany, after he also featured prominently in Boothroyd's side in the run-up to the European Under-21 Championship.

They also suffered another injury setback recently, as Callum Hudson-Odoi was out of action with a shoulder injury, but he is expected to be fit to play on Wednesday.

They do still boast a strong collection of young players though, with the likes of Aaron Ramsdale, Ben Godfrey, Tom Davies, Ebere Eze and Dwight McNeil all featuring prominently in the Premier League this season.

Meanwhile, Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah, and Curtis Jones have all forced themselves into the selection picture at some of the Premier League's top clubs this season.

Nketiah will lead the line for the Young Lions, having recently broken the scoring record with 16 goals for the Under-21s.

Croatia Under-21s possible starting lineup:
Kotarski; Sverko, Erlic, Franjic, Bradaric; Majer, Moro, Babec, Bistrovic, Ivanusec; Vizniger

England Under-21s possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; Aarons, Godfrey, Guehi, Sessegnon; Jones, Davies, Smith Rowe; Eze, Nketiah, Hudson-Odoi


SM words green background

We say: Croatia Under-21s 1-1 England Under-21s

This has been another underwhelming tournament display from England Under-21s, and we do not see them turning that around with a win here, let alone a three-goal victory which could see them through.

Meanwhile, Croatia-Under-21s have a real chance of progressing through to the final eight, and we see them getting a positive result against an out of sorts Young Lions side to boost those chances.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


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England Under-21s boss Aidy Boothroyd pictured in November 2019
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12Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174662-1645
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14Crystal Palace38128184166-2544
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