Czech Republic U21 v Italy U21
Wednesday 21st June, 17:00
Live on Sky Sports

Italy U21 coach Gigi Di Biagio warned his side "must do better, especially in the final third" despite beating Denmark 2-0 in their opening European Championship encounter on Sunday evening.

Lorenzo Pellegrini scored a stunning overhead kick to give the Azzurrini the lead shortly after half-time before Andrea Petagna added a second late on from an exquisite cross by substitute Federico Chiesa. But it was a nervous display from one of the sides expected to challenge for top honours this summer.

Victory was a fair result despite Denmark's stubborn efforts in Krakow and Di Biagio is now demanding more from his star-studded troops as they travel to Tychy on Wednesday to take on the Czech Republic.

Italy, 1.62, dominated possession against Denmark but consistently struggled to break down the Danes. The Azzurrini boasted 65% of the ball in the first 45 minutes but barely forced Jeppe Hojbjerg into a save; whilst the mastery of the ball was encouraging, the five-time winners will need to be more incisive in possession.

"In the first half we backed down a little bit," Di Biagio added. "At half-time I told my players to find the right balance and not get nervous. The pace in the second half was a lot better and enabled us to achieve a very good result."

This is a very experienced side, the squad featuring only five players who are under 21 years of age and at the back Mattia Caldara and Daniele Rugani largely strolled through the game, with only minor lapses in judgement from those in front and behind threatening the Italian clean sheet.

It was another encouraging defensive performance from a nation that leaked just three goals en-route to Poland. And with Italy silencing their opposition in seven of their last nine triumphs, the win 'to nil' might appeal to some at 2.60.

Czech Republic, 6.60, were well beaten in their curtain-raiser against Germany after a sloppy showing saw Vitezslav Lavicka's men slide to a 2-0 defeat. It means the Little Lions have now kept just four competitive clean sheets in 14 outings since 2015.

The Czechs lost the shot count 24-13 against the Germans and 9-2 when viewing purely on-target attempts. And the final score could have been even worse with goalkeeper Lukas Zima saving a late penalty.

Lavicka was frustrated with his side's defending - Michal Sacek and Zima were both at fault for the goals - but the boss was also made to rue uncharacteristically poor finishing from in-demand Patrik Schick.

The Czech Republic's two best chances of the game fell to their star player Schick but on both occasions the highly-rated Sampdoria forward side-footed the ball over the top of the bar when well-placed to score.

"We played well for the first 20 minutes, but after that we lost control of the game," said Czech midfielder Vaclav Cerny. "It's a shame we didn't manage to score in the second half - we had chances. But, if I'm honest, Germany were better than us."

It means the 2002 champions face an uphill battle to reach the final-four. With no finalist conceding more goals in qualifying (10) and both Moldova and Latvia notching home and away against the Little Lions, I've little confidence in the Czechs defence holding firm.

The underdogs unbeaten run of 11 games has long since ending and with the Czechs now losing thee of their past six, I'm happy to oppose them here. Italy 1.62 are too short to support in the Match Odds market but we can back the Azzurrini at 5/6 to score Over 1.5 Goals, a reasonable alternative.

The Czechs have seen Over 2.5 Goals in nine of their last 11 fixtures with Both Teams To Score paying dividends in six of their last eight outings; it certainly suggests the Italians should be capable of grabbing at least a couple of goals with an improved display here.

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Back Italy to score Over 1.5 Goals at 5/6

Germany U21 v Denmark U21
Wednesday 21st June, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

Goals from Max Meyer and Serge Gnabry either side of half-time set Germany on their way to a convincing 2-0 win over Czech Republic but a late Davie Selke penalty miss cost Die Mannschaft an outright advantage at the top of Group C.

A drab first-half was brought to life by Man of the Match Meyer a minute before the interval with Germany's captain and standout player at the Rio Olympics drifting in from the left wing to thump a low shot into the far corner.

Less than five minutes after the restart, Stefan Kuntz's troops doubled their advantage through Gnabry. The former Arsenal starlet had early seen a toe-poked effort hit the post as the well-fancied Germans kicked-off in style.

The youthful squad Jogi Low has selected for the Confederations Cup has taken its toll on Kuntz's U21 side, but they still feature four players with senior international caps, including Meyer.

"We controlled the game well," said Meyer after that opening game. "We stuck to our game plan and it's the game plan that we want to execute throughout the tournament."

That would seem to mean a solid 4-2-3-1 with Meyer operating in the centre of the creative trident behind Selke, with Gnabry on the left and Mitchell Weiser on the right. A similar set-up saw Die Mannschaft score 35 goals - more than any other side in qualifying - to win Group 7, and were the only team to reach the finals with a perfect record having won all 10 qualifiers.

Having claimed victory in 15 of their past 17 matches, been semi-finalists in 2015 and champions in 2009, there's no doubt the Germans present a mighty task for any opposition side at this level. The layers are offering just 1.49 on Kuntz's charges earning back-to-back victories.

Denmark, 7.60, frustrated Italy for large swathes of their opening encounter but were unable to test the Azzurrini in a 2-0 loss. The Danes did an effective job in shutting down Andrea Petagna, Federico Bernardeschi and Domenico Berardi but managed just one on-target effort in a largely toothless display.

Winger Andrew Hjulsager's was Niels Frederiksen's side most potent weapon in their rigid 4-4-2, threatening with a string of decent deliveries down the right. Marcus Ingvartsen failed to connect with a wicked Hjulsager cross as Denmark wasted their best opportunity in front of goal.

Frederiksen didn't seem overly downhearted after that opening defeat. "We're disappointed - we hoped for a win but we know Italy are very strong. The players performed well and played as we prepared but unfortunately it wasn't enough. We created some chances but we need to do better at counterattacking."

Denmark drew their first Group 5 qualifier at home to Wales but won all their next nine - keeping clean sheets in their first five matches, and managing seven shut-outs overall. The 2015 semi-finalists impressed many and their experience at this level should not be discounted.

Without perhaps their three eligible star players in Kasper Dolberg, Andreas Christensen and Yussuf Poulsen, the squad has only one player to have tasted senior international football but 13 players are in double figures for U21 caps.

There are few household names but what the Danes lack in high-profile individuals, they make up for in team continuity and cohesiveness. But since their nine-match winning streak ended, Frederiksen's group has managed just W1-D1-L3 since, including heavy friendly losses to both England and Spain.

That's sure to alarm the Danish boss and with Germany already up and running, it's hard to oppose the warm pre-match favourites here. Backing Germany to score in both halves (13/10) and Germany -1 on the handicap (7/5) should both appeal.

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Back Germany to score in both halves [13/10]

Back Germany -1 handicap (7/5)

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