The U19 European Championships – Who will shine?

Posted: July 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

                                                                        As Euro 2012 draws closer to it’s end, I’ve decided to take an in-depth look at the U19 European Championships. The U19 Euro’s will be held in Estonia this year and the tournament officially starts on July 3rd. Previous winners, Spain, will be looking to retain their trophy and I believe they have a really good chance of doing so. England go into the tournament as slight favourites due to their outstanding Youth products, whom I’ll discuss later on in this article.

Despite many people not showing interest in this tournament, I for one always look forward to this. My main reason for watching the U19 tournaments is to scout the youth from around the world. As an aspiring Scout I always like to be on the look-out for players from other countries as opposed to just England. There are many players who have caught my eye going into this tournament. England have a host of players who I’ll discuss soon; but for me Spain have the stronger squad.

Here are some of the players who I think will shine for their countries:

Paco Alcácer is an 18-year-old striker who plays for Spain. He’s quite a prolific goalscorer as you can see by his various records for club and country. Alcacer has been in scintillating form for Valencia B since 2009, netting 43 goals in 60 appearances. He also holds a fantastic international record, too. 15 goals in just 13 appearances for Spain’s U17 squad has seen him become a rising star. In the U17 Euro’s he netted 6 goals in the tournament, making him the Golden Boot winner. The U19 Euro’s last year saw Spain beat Czech Republic in the final to win the tournament; Alcacer scored two goals in the final and Spain won 3-2 in the end. Alcacer is blessed with a fantastic finish and a sublime first-touch. Alcacer will undoubtedly perform fantastically this year, mark my words.

Nathan Redmond is an 18-year-old winger for England. This past season has seen him become quite a revelation in the NPower Championship for Birmingham City. He’s one of Birmingham City’s youth products and has made quite a name for himself. Redmond is what you may call a speed demon, his pace leaves many full-backs chasing an already lost cause most of the time, should they catch up with Redmond he has the skill to turn them inside-out. Redmond has a powerful shot on him too which makes him a very good winger. He’s a fans favourite at Birmingham and I believe he’ll help them gain promotion next season. With only one cap for the U19s Redmond goes into this tournament with a point to prove and to show the footballing world what he is capable of.

 Cafú – no, not the Brazilian legend. Cafu is a player whom I haven’t seen much of at club level so I can’t really comment on his club performances. His international performances have been impeccable. Cafu is an Attacking Midfielder, he’s a set-piece specialist and is quite prolific when it comes to free-kicks. In the qualifying stages for the U19 Euro’s, Cafu, scored four goals and also got two assists. He plays for Benfica in a slightly more advanced role where he plays as an out-and-out striker, but for Portugal’s U19s he plays in the Attacking Mid role.

Pablo Insua is regarded as one of the best young players in Spain at the moment. He’s a centre-back who is known for being very dominant in the air as well as having a bit of pace about him. He currently plays for Deportivo La Coruna, who have recently been promoted to the top tier in Spain. Insua became a hit in Spain after becoming a first-team regular for Depor last season; Manchester City and Chelsea seemed to have shown interest in him over the last year or so. He has been said to be very mature for his age and has been likened to Gerard Pique, despite not being as tall as the Barcelona centre-back. He will form a fantastic partnership with Barcelona’s promising centre-back Marc Bartra, who is also regarded highly in Spain. As a Depor fan, I would love nothing more than to see Insua have a great campaign.

Benik Afobe is a striker who is very prolific when he steers clear of injury, he reminds me of a younger Van Persie in many ways. Afobe has a fantastic finish on him and is quite good in the air, too. Injuries have been quite frustrating for Afobe as we can all see the talent that he has, yet he can’t get the spotlight to shine on him due these injuries. Afobe is a superb player and he shows this for club and country; his record for England is quite good – 22 goals in 33 appearances for the U16s, 17s and 19s has seen him become a regular when it comes to playing for those sides. I think Afobe will shine at the Euro’s if he is partnered up-front and is not left as a sole-striker. My recommendation would be Harry Kane (Tottenham) partnering Afobe up-front as Afobe does get a few assists and thrives off playing with another striker. Barkley behind those two could prove to be a deadly formation for England.

Those are the players whom I believe will definitely shine at the U19 Euro’s, this year. There are some other players who I’d like to mention but it’d be too much to write about so I’ll just make a list of their names and you guys can do some research on them, if you like.

  • Jese Rodriguez – Striker (Spain/Real Madrid)
  • Dennis Suarez – Attacking Midfielder (Spain/Man City)
  • Betinho – Winger/Striker (Portugal/Sporting Lisbon)
  • Harry Kane – Striker (England/Tottenham)
  • Ross Barkley – Attacking Midfielder-ish (England/Everton)
  • Dimitrios Diamantakos – Striker (Greece/Olympiakos)
  • Lucas Digne – Left-back (France/Lille)

Let’s hope to see a fantastic U19 Euro’s this year. There will be many talented players on show and it should be very entertaining. England and Spain are my favourites for the tournament, possibly both finalists, should they avoid eachother in the semi-finals. Portugal will be the dark horses along with Greece.

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