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European U21 Championship betting preview: England vs. Italy

Gareth Southgate has stressed England’s need to “accelerate” as they head into their final group game of the European U21 Championship.

With a semi-final place on the line, England need nothing short of a win over the Azzurrini to guarantee their progress into the next round as Group B rivals Portugal and Sweden vie for top spot.

The Young Lions huffed and puffed against an obdurate Sweden in their last match, with a sweetly struck Jesse Lingard volley in the 85th minute eventually breaking Swedish resistance.

Alex Pritchard’s injury leaves Lingard in line for his second start of the tournament, while Norwich City’s Nathan Redmond is set to fill the spot on England’s opposite flank.

Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek was another who played his way into contention after coming on, and could start over club-mate Nathaniel Chalobah as Southgate seeks to beef up the side’s midfield presence.

England are favourites with the bookies, most pricing them at 6/4 for the win, although best odds come courtesy of Wlliam Hill at 8/5. With the Italians 23/10 with Sportingbet and Betfred, and teetering on the brink of elimination, Gareth Southgate’s men will be hopeful of progressing.

The arrival of Liverpool-bound Danny Ings as a second-half substitute stretched the play against the Swedes, with the switch to a traditional 4-4-2 providing muchneeded support to a Harry Kane struggling to link up with England’s three-man midfield.

Earlier this week the 22-year-old made clear his willingness to come off the bench, saying: “I will make sure I’m ready when called upon,” but privately the former Burnley man will surely be hoping to partner Kane up top. The two strikers are priced with Bet365 at 9/4 and 15/8 respectively to score at anytime.

Europe’s leading clubs have long been circling Juventus wonderkid Domenico Berardi, and the skilful striker will pose a great threat to England’s defence as Southgate ponders whether to reintroduce the fit again John Stones at the expense of either Liam Moore or Ben Gibson. Berardi is priced at 7/1 with Paddy Power to score the game’s first goal, England’s back four will need to be wary of the danger the lively forward possesses.

Tom Lewis
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