Portugal U21 vs Netherlands U21 Predictions & Match Preview
Soccer Euro Under 21 Championship - Group Stage
⚽ 24 June 2023 - 16:00 GMT +0
Portugal knows they are already at the last chance saloon if they are to reach the UEFA European U21 Championships final for a fourth time. Rui Jorge’s side, who were runners-up at the tournament two years ago, got their group stage off to a horrendous start when they suffered a shock 2-0 defeat to co-hosts Georgia on Wednesday, with Tomás Araújo’s dismissal deep into the second half rubbing salt into the wounds.
The fact that Esperanças failed to find the back of the net was of particular surprise given they were the top scorers in qualifying for the tournament with 41 goals. History suggests a return to form is likely considering that Portugal U21s have not lost back-to-back matches since May 2006, while they have also registered 25 wins in their last 29 outings (D1, L3).
Looking to end that proud record are two-time tournament winners the Netherlands, who know a victory in this game will eliminate their opponents. Young Orange have been struggling to find the back of the net themselves of late, illustrated by their campaign-opening 0-0 draw against Belgium, their third goalless stalemate from their last five outings (W1, D4)
Manager Erwin van de Looi admitted his players looked tired in that fixture, likening his squad to “a balloon that deflated.” Consequently, the manager might be tempted to rotate his squad, with Thijs Dallinga and Joshua Zirkzee pushing for a starting place up front as the Dutch look to extend a 16-game unbeaten run (W10, D6) that stretches back to their semi-final defeat at the hands of Germany at the Euro U21 Championships in 2021.
📋 Key battle: Striker Vitinha has scored three goals in his five competitive games for Portugal U21, losing just once (W4). He will likely be trying to get the better of Dutch defender Jan Paul van Hecke, who has helped his side keep a clean sheet in five of his six appearances for the Netherlands U21 side (W3, D3).
⚡ Hot stat: Netherlands U21 have not conceded a first-half goal in any of their last dozen internationals.
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