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• England must win to advance, admits Aidy Boothroyd
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Hello and welcome to what has been described – not by a desperate media but by England’s manager, no less – as a must-win match for England. Buoyed by recents exploits by other young lions, England’s U-21s went into this tournament with high hopes of winning it but a dreary 0-0 draw with Sweden in their first match has left them with no room for error in their second group game. Slovakia will be no willing victims, for they began this tournament by shocking the hosts, Poland, after qualifying for it at the expense of Holland and Turkey, amongst others.
This has been England’s most disappointing age group in recent years – apart from the senior team, obviously – as the U-21s have failed to make it out of the group stages in the last three European Championships, although, in fairness, they have at least made it to the finals each time, while other big countries have not. If they are to make it out of their group this time, they will probably have to play far better than they did against Sweden, when they were untidy and unimaginative, which is not what we were told to expect from a side managed by Aidy Boothroyd. The technician blamed Sweden’s conservative tactics for his own team’s humdrum approach in the first match – so at least England’s excuse was innovative – and he reckons his team will show their true face today. Boothroyd certainly hasn’t lost confidence in his charges, as he has made only one alteration to his lineup from the last game, introducing the elegant John Swift for Jacob Murphy in midfield. There’s plenty of talent there even if, sadly, Demarai Gray begins on the bench again. Can they do it? Yes, they can! Will they do it? That’s what we’re here to find out.
From The Guardian
Slovakia v England: European Under-21 Championship – live!