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Guide: favorites, big names, facts.

After the U20 World Cup ends, it's time for the U21 Euro. This tournament involves 16 national teams that qualified two years ago. For this reason, the U21 Euro has a permanent rule: even 23-year-old players can play for the teams as long as they were born no earlier than January 1, 2000. This opens the doors for mega-talents like Sandro Tonali, who is included in the squad of the Italian national team.

This material is a guide to the tournament: favorites, big names, and facts. Let's take a look!

France - the main favorite?

The argument is that they have the most expensive team in the tournament: Transfermarkt values them at almost €416 million. If they were competing among the senior national teams, they would be in the top ten!

Key stars: Ryan Cherki (Lyon), Michael Olise (Crystal Palace), Bradley Barcola (Lyon), Kouadio Koné (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Enzo Le Fée (Lorient) - and that's just a part of it! France is seriously determined to compete for the title.

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Many players have yet to prove themselves as they have already played for the senior national team. But a good performance in this tournament can be a stepping stone to a top club transfer. For example, Liverpool is watching Koné and Kephren Thuram, while half of Europe is interested in Eliot Vaquez.

The German national team is out to defend the title

In 2021, the Germans defeated Spain and won their third such title. This Euro allows them to set a record and reach the final for the fourth consecutive time.

Compared to France, fewer stars are in the squad, but players are worth watching. For example, Yusuf Mukoko (Borussia Dortmund) and Kevin Schade became Brentford's most expensive signing in history (they moved from Freiburg for €25 million).

Another interesting name is 22-year-old Yann Aurel Bisseck: a central defender who, according to Fabrizio Romano, will join Inter from Danish side Aarhus for €7 million. The first thing that catches the eye about this guy is his towering height - 196 cm. Yes, Yann is excellent in the air!

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The Spanish national team - the traditional favorite! A chance for a treble

In 2019, Spain won the Euro under Luis de la Fuente, but now they have a different coach: de la Fuente is coaching the senior national team, and Santi Denia has taken his place. The new coach can achieve a treble with one generation: he already won the U17 Euro in 2017, and the U19 Euro in 2019, with some players called up for the upcoming tournament.

The Spanish squad is a balance of established players like Abel Ruiz (Braga), Arnau Tenas (Barcelona B), Hugo Guillamón (Valencia), and Juan Miranda (Real Betis), as well as discoveries of this season: Gabriel Veiga (Celta Vigo), Alex Baena (Villarreal), Aymar Oroz (Osasuna), and Arnau Martínez (Girona).

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The call-up of goalkeeper Tenas sparked a scandal because he was taken away just before an essential match for promotion to the Segunda Division. Barcelona's B team had to give up Arnau, and then they lost to Real Madrid Castilla.

English stars will strive to claim the first title of this century

Yes, "It's coming home" is still not happening here: the last time England won was in the 1980s. Nevertheless, England has qualified for the tournament for the ninth consecutive time.

But they have a plethora of stars in their lineup: Levi Colwill (Chelsea), Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa), Noni Madueke (Chelsea), Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal), and even Harvey Elliott from Liverpool! In terms of names, the team is almost on par with France.

There are also players from the Championship, such as Max Aarons from Norwich. This is his chance to move up the ranks finally.

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The dark horse is the Israeli national team

Israel has been impressive in recent years. They won silver at the U19 Euros last year and bronze at the Youth World Cup this year.

Immediately after the U20 World Cup, five players from the triumphant team joined the Euro squad: Dor Turgeman (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Tomer Tsarfati (Maccabi Netanya), Roy Revivo (Hapoel Jerusalem), Stav Lemkin (Hapoel Tel Aviv), and Anan Halaili (Maccabi Haifa). They will be joined by Oscar Gluh, who couldn't participate in the World Cup due to club commitments. Last year, this midfielder led the U19 national team to the Euro final before being signed by Salzburg. They are expected to make some noise!

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Who will miss the tournament among the stars?

Georgian idols Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Georges Mikautadze initially planned to participate in the home Euro. They were included in the provisional squad, but both eventually withdrew because they couldn't prepare for the tournament due to a demanding season. However, Georgi Mamardashvili, representing Valencia, will be there.

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Sasha Boe from France will miss the tournament due to an injury. He shone at Galatasaray, and this tournament could have attracted more clubs from the top leagues. Belgian talented midfielders Arthur Vermeren (the best young player in the local Championship) and Romeo Lavia won't be able to participate due to injuries. For the same reason, we also won't see Ansgar Knauff from Germany and Fabio Vieira, the captain of Portugal's U21 team and an Arsenal player.

Celtic did not release Liel Abada from Israel. They want to sell the winger in the summer without the risk of injury derailing the deal. Joao Bakayoko from PSV will also not be there as he has been called up to the senior Belgian national team, and they decided not to involve him in the U21 Euro.

The most compelling cases involve Moise Kean (Juventus) and Jeremy Frimpong (Bayer). Kean was initially included in Italy's squad but was later replaced by Wilfried Nyon. Italian media reported that Moise didn't want to participate in the U21 Euros. On the other hand, Frimpong rejected the opportunity to play in the Euros and doesn't want to represent the Dutch youth teams due to his resentment towards Ronald Koeman for not calling him up to the senior squad.

The most anticipated matches of the group stage

At the U21 Euros, teams are divided into four groups, with the top two advancing to the playoffs. The quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals follow this. The so-called "group of death" is Group A, featuring Georgia, Portugal, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Georgia may be considered an underdog, but playing at home shouldn't be underestimated. The matches between the other three teams will be intense:

Matchday 1: Belgium vs. Netherlands on June 21st.
Matchday 2: Portugal vs. Netherlands on June 24th.
Matchday 3: Portugal vs. Belgium on June 27th.

In the other groups, the favorites will clash in the key matches of the group stage:

Group D, Matchday 1: France vs. Italy on June 22nd.
Group B, Matchday 2: Spain vs. Croatia on June 24th.
Group C, Matchday 3: England vs. Germany on June 28th.