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

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

They are co-hosts Georgia and Romania, 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 first legs took place on Friday, and these were the scores:

Republic of Ireland 1-1 Israel. Croatia 2-1 Denmark. Slovakia 3-2 Ukraine. Iceland 1-2 Czech Republic.

Israel vs Republic of Ireland


Following Friday night’s draw in Dublin, it’s winner takes all in Tel Aviv.

With the away goals rule having been abolished, this second leg is now essentially a one-off cup tie.

Israel came into this clash as favourites and, having drawn on the road, this status has only been enhanced.

Victory here for Guy Luzon’s team would see the Blue and Whites qualify for the finals for the first time since 2013, when they were hosts.

Republic of Ireland meanwhile are on the cusp of qualifying for the first time ever, with this the 18th attempt.

The Green and White Army beat Sweden in Borås back in March, but now need another famous road victory to get through.

Who will be celebrating at Bloomfield Stadium?

Denmark vs Croatia


As these two reconvene in Vejle, Croatia boast the slenderest of margins.

On Friday night in Pula, Gabriel Vidović and Dion Drena Beljo were on target as Croatia raced into a 2-0 half time lead.

However, Casper Tengstedt’s goal back for Denmark at Stadion Aldo Drosina means this one is still very much in the balance.

Croatia are aiming to qualify for a third successive U21 European Championships, reaching the quarter-finals at the most recent edition.

Denmark also got through to the last eight in June 2021, and have qualified for the last four stagings of the finals.

Thus, whoever is beaten here, will be bitterly disappointed.

Can Denmark overturn that first leg deficit at Vejle Stadion?

Ukraine vs Slovakia

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After a five-goal thriller in Žilina, Slovakia are looking to make their narrow first leg lead count?

On Friday night at Štadión pod Dubňom, the first 53 minutes produced five goals, with Slovakia running out 3-2 winners.

The hosts led three times, Tomáš Suslov scoring and David Strelec bagging a brace.

Bohdan Vyunnyk and Dmytro Kryskiv did manage to equalise for Ukraine, but after the third goal went in, they didn’t have an answer.

Will this clash in Bielsko-Biała be just as exciting?

If Slovakia avoid defeat, they’ll qualify for a third U21 Euros, reaching the semi-finals in 2000, with their only appearance since coming in 2017.

Ukraine meantime are desperate to end their 12-year exile from the finals, last qualifying in 2011 when Andriy Yarmolenko, who now has 110 senior caps, was involved.

Due to the ongoing Russian invasion, Ukraine are unable to play on home soil.

So, at Stadion Miejski in Poland, who will prevail?

Czech Republic vs Iceland


Having won on the road in Reykjavík, Czech Republic are firmly in control of this tie.

On Friday night, it was first blood to Iceland; Sævar Atli Magnússon converting a penalty.

However, Matěj Valenta equalised shortly after before Václav Sejk scored, what turned out to be, the winner at Víkingsvöllur.

So, Jan Suchopárek’s team are firmly in the catbird seat to reach next summer’s finals, ahead of this second leg in České Budějovice.

The Czech Republic have qualified for seven of 12 European U21 Championships this century, including three of the last four.

Their only defeats during qualifying came at the hands of England so, having won on the road, it would be a major surprise if they didn’t progress now.

On the flip side, Iceland have a bit of a mountain to climb.

Davíð Snorri Jónasson’s team did qualify for the most recent U21 Euros, just their second appearance, but may have blown their chance to be in Romania & Georgia next summer.

Will the home side be too strong at Stadion Střelecký ostrov?


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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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