Portugal U21 vs Serbia U21 Prediction, Preview, Lineups and Betting Tips
Group B of the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship kick-offs on Saturday night when Portugal and Serbia will meet at the “Kompleks Sportowy Zawisza” in Bydgoszcz. That’s one of the most anticipated group phase fixtures since it faces runner-ups of the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Portugal and players from the Serbian generation that have won the U20 FIFA World Cup two years ago. Furthermore, only teams on first position will secure themselves a position at the semi-finals, while the best-placed runner-up from all three groups will join them. This inevitably increases importance of every group game, especially when Spain is one of the other two Group B contenders, as well as underdogs FYR Macedonia who shouldn’t be underestimated though.
UEFA European Championship: Portugal U21 vs Serbia U21 17.07.2017
Portugal lost the 2015 final game after a dramatic penalty shootouts against Sweden. Some of the players who were in Rui Jorge’s selection for the Czech Republic are heading to Poland two years later. Bruno Varela, João Cancelo, Tobias Figueiredo, Ruben Neves, Goncalo Paciencia, Iuri Medeiros and Ricardo Horta are among the silver medalists from 2015, who were once again called up in the U21 selection.
Portugal are one of the potential favourites and “The Esperanças” are keen to lift a trophy, while the main team participates at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. Their squad is filled by talents who must prove they worth and they can be adequate replacements of the old generation players. This can win them a call up for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia (if Portugal qualifies, of course) and for a potential title defence at the UEFA Euro 2020.
Serbia U21 returns on the continental scene after a disappointing performance in the Czech Republic. “The Young Eagles” were the only team with only a point won, which came as a draw against Germany (1-1) in their opening fixture. Nevertheless, that positive result has been followed by a 0-4 loss to the Czech Republic and 0-2 vs Denmark, so the Serbs are definitely aiming to a much better record two years later.
Nenad Lalatovic has been appointed as the U21 head coach earlier this year. The 39-year-old Serb, who’s also the head coach of a domestic league club Cukaricki, mostly relies on players who were crowned as the U20 World Cup champions in New Zealand. Players like Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, Filip Manojlovic, Milan Gajic, Nemanja Antonov, Milos Veljkovic, Vukasin Jovanovic, Nemanja Maksimovic, Mijat Gacinovic, Andrija Zivkovic and Marko Grujic were already in the winning squad and their experience should be priceless.
Match Preview: Team News, Squads and Missing Players
Portuguese coach boasts with some great names in the squad and one of them surely is Renato Sanches, who is set for his first ever U21 appearance. Indeed, Sanches’ talent sent him directly to the main team but now talented central midfielder has been called up to the U21 selection, meaning that Portugal chases the trophy.
Other players who deserve special attention are Manchester United’s goalkeeper Joel Pereira, João Cancelo (Valencia), Ruben Semedo (Villarreal), Ruben Neves (Porto), captain Bruno Fernandes (Sampdoria), Goncalo Guedes (PSG), Bruma (RB Leipzig) and Diogo Jota (Porto). Definitely a great mixture between vibrant attackers and experienced for their age players in defense/midfield.
On other hand Serbia seems to be an underdog in that game but “The Young Eagles” know how to upset opponents. The winger of Portuguese champion Benfica Andrija Zivkovic represents biggest threat for Portugal’s defense but he’s not only in that line. Mijat Gacinovic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Marko Grujic (Liverpool) and top scorer Uros Djurdjevic (Partizan Belgrade) are other players who must contribute for Serbia’s attacking approach.
In the meantime situation either in defense or midfield looks predictable but biggest blow for Serbia’s squad is related with name of Lazio’s central midfielder Sergej Milinković-Savic. He will miss the whole tournament so Serbian central midfield line will most likely be formed with a duo Sasa Lukic (Torino)/Nemanja Maksimovic (Valencia).
Portugal U21 vs Serbia U21 Predictions and Betting Tips
Portugal looks stronger and head coach Rui Jorge has many options on each position. Anyway, Serbia is really consistent and solid in youth football so we can’t underestimate them at any point, especially when squad is filled by World Cup winners.
That’s why our betting prediction goes for goals by both sides. Portugal U21 vs Serbia U21 – “Both teams to score – Yes“.
Venue: “Kompleks Sportowy Zawisza”, Bydgoszcz.
Referee: Benoît Bastien from France.
Possible Lineups of Portugal U21 and Serbia U21
Portugal U21: Joel Pereira – João Cancelo, Edgar Ie, Ruben Semedo, Pedro Rebocho – Renato Sanches, Ruben Neves, Bruno Fernandes – Goncalo Guedes, Diogo Jota, Bruma. (4-3-3)
Serbia U21: Vanja Milinkovic-Savic – Milan Gajic, Vukasin Jovanovic, Milos Veljkovic, Nemanja Antonov – Sasa Lukic, Nemanja Maksimovic – Andrija Zivkovic, Marko Grujic, Mijat Gacinovic – Uros Djurdjevic. (4-2-3-1)