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Euro Under-21 play-off first legs: Previews, predictions and odds

UEFA European Under-21 (U21) Championship live streaming

12 teams have already qualified for next summer’s under-21 European Championships.

They are co-hosts Georgia and Romaina, as well as Norway, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, England, France and Belgium.

The remaining four places are up for grabs in these play-offs; the second legs take place on Tuesday 27 September.

Republic of Ireland vs Israel

Will Republic of Ireland make home advantage count in this first leg?

The Boys in Green are aiming to qualify for the U21 Euros for the very first time, having missed out by just two points last time round.

In this campaign, Jim Crawford’s side pipped Sweden to second spot in Group F, finishing below only five-times winners Italy.

Ireland actually beat Sweden both home and away, with Ross Tierney and Tyreik Wright on target in March’s success in Borås.

Conor Coventry, of West Ham, is this team’s star player, so can he help fire Ireland to a first leg victory?

Israel’s last appearances at a U21 Euros came in 2013, as hosts, beating England in Jerusalem, but still bowing out in the group phase.

As they bid to change that, Guy Luzon’s team finished second in Group B, above Poland and Hungary, with two of their three defeats coming at the hands of run-away leaders Germany.

So, Israel will be confident of leaving Dublin in a strong position, ahead of the second leg in Tel Aviv.

Will Ireland build up a lead at Tallaght Stadium?

Croatia vs Denmark

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Croatia vs Denmark

Croatia to draw 1-1 with Denmark- 5/1!


At 5/1, a £10 bet would return £60!

Croatia U21s vs Denmark U21s

September 23, 2022

5:00 pm GMT+1

These two nations were in pot one when the group stage draw was made back in January 2021, so both are disappointed to have not qualified automatically.

Croatia were pipped to first place in their group by Norway, missing out by two points, thanks largely to a dramatic 3-2 defeat in Drammen back in March.

The Blazers are seeking to qualify for a third successive U21 Euros, actually reaching the quarter-finals last year, beaten after extra time by Spain.

Denmark also appeared in the last eight at the most recent edition of this tournament, winning all three group game before crashing out to eventual champions Germany on penalties.

In fact, de Rød-Hvide have featured at five of the last six U21 Euros, so will be desperate not to miss next summer’s tournament.

Jesper Sørensen’s side cruised to second place in Group I, miles clear of Türkiye and Scotland, whilst three points below Belgium.

Given that Denmark are unbeaten in 25 home qualifiers, if they can leave Pula with any sort of positive result, they’ll fancy their chances of advancing.

So, can Croatia make home advantage count at Stadion Aldo Drosina?

Slovakia vs Ukraine

Ukraine v Korea Republic: Final - 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup

Ukraine actually won the most recent U20 World Cup, this coming in 2019, so will they continue to thrive at under-age level, in-spite of the ongoing Russian invasion?

The Blue and Yellows are biding to qualify for and Under-21 Euros for the first time since 2011.

During qualifying, Ruslan Rotan’s side were very impressive, accumulating 23 points from ten games, only missing out on first place to France.

Back in June, they held les Bleuets to a thrilling 3-3 draw, coming from 3-1 down to do so.

So now, can they spring a surprise on the road and win this first leg in Žilina?

Slovakia meanwhile have only ever qualified for this tournament twice before, doing so in 2000 as hosts and then in 2017.

This time round, the Young Falcons took advantage of Russia’s disqualification to take second spot in Group C, below only a Spain team who accumulated maximum points.

So, Jaroslav Kentoš' team probably come into this tie as slight underdogs, therefore needing to claim a home win here.

Will there be anything to separate the sides at Štadión pod Dubňom?

Iceland vs Czech Republic

Iceland World Cup
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Iceland vs Czech Republic

Iceland to draw 1-1 with Czech Republic - 9/2!


At 9/2, a £10 bet would return £55!

Iceland U21s vs Czech Republic U21s

September 23, 2022

5:00 pm GMT+1

Will Iceland claim a first leg home win in Reykjavík?

To date, Iceland have only ever qualified for two U21 Euros, these coming in 2011 and then a decade later at the most-recent edition.

During this cycle, Davíð Snorri Jónasson’s side were delighted to get into the play-offs, pipping Greece by one point, finishing below only Portugal.

So, with Iceland coming into this tie as underdogs, winning the home leg is vitally important.

Czech Republic meanwhile have qualified for the finals on eight occasions, actually lifting the trophy back in 2002.

Their team back then featured Petr Čech and Milan Baroš who, between them, would go on to accumulate 214 senior caps.

These days, the Little Lions were happy to take second spot in Group G, finishing just three points below England.

So, Jan Suchopárek’s team will travel to Víkingsvöllur hopeful of an away victory.

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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