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15th Jun 2013

JOE’s Alternative Match of the Week: Italy vs Netherlands in the Euro U21

Italy and Netherlands are two of the most high profile teams at the tournament, and it's no surprise that both of them have made it to the semi-final.


Italy and Netherlands are two of the most high profile teams at the tournament, and it’s no surprise that both of them have made it to the semi-final.

Only one of them can progress however, and the Netherlands certainly impressed in what was an extremely difficult group.

They had to contend with Spain, Russia and Germany, and played great football that saw them hammer the Russians 5-1.

The Dutch have always produced great players at this level, and the captain Kevin Strootman, who has often been linked with Manchester United in recent months, is one to keep an eye on in midfield.

Ola John of Benfica scored a lovely, neat finish against Germany to add some gloss to the scoreline, while Georginio Wijnaldum is a player whose undoubted talent will see him make a move from PSV to a bigger team very soon. Liverpool have already shown interest in him, and given his record at this level, he looks like one who could take the step up in his stride. He scored 14 goals in the Eredevisie this season, and while that’s not always a mark of a top attacking talent, he loves to get the ball down and attack defenders, which makes him a joy to watch.

Netherlands v Russia - UEFA European U21 Championships: Group B

Speaking of Liverpool, their striker Fabio Borini (who’s still only a whipper-snapper and plays in this tournament – something which can easily be forgotten given he’s played for Chelsea, Bologna, Roma and Swansea already) could start up front as first choice Lorenzo Insigne may not be match fit, having sustained an injury against Israel. However, Ciro Immobile may be given the nod ahead of Borini, who has only made one appearance against England so far.

Italy U21 Training Session & Press Conference

Italy have had an interesting tournament, and while they haven’t set the world alight, they certainly can’t be ruled out, as their late goal against Norway (a superb piece of improvisation from Bertolacci) showed.

Marco Veratti, the hugely talented Paris Saint Germain midfielder, has been dictating the pace of play for the Italians in midfield, and while PSG will be keen to hold on to him, Real Madrid have been sniffing around and very much like the look of the 20-year-old.

The match will be on Sky Sports 2 this evening at 7.30pm, and is one we definitely advise that you watch.

If that doesn’t tickle your fancy though, our alternative to the alternative is Brazil vs. Japan in the Confederations Cup, which is on BBC Three tonight at 8pm, and should be a great game too.

Brazil need a good start to their only run of competitive fixtures which take place between now and the World Cup, and with Luiz Felipe Scolari back in charge, there should be a bit more attacking flair to their play than under previous coach Mano Menezes, who was appointed coach of Flamengo back in Brazil yesterday.