After topping their European Under-21 Championship qualifying group, England’s young guns now take on Serbia in a two-legged play-off for a place in the finals in Israel next summer.
Carrow Road plays host to the first leg on Friday evening and although defeat would be disastrous for the young crop of English talent hoping to showcase their ability on the big stage, the odds suggest such a scenario is unlikely.
Stuart Pearce’s men are priced as strong 9/20 favourites in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with the draw at 3/1 and Serbia available at lengthy odds of 6/1.
Luckily for Pearce, Norwich’s home ground has been good to England Under-21s in the past and they will be hoping for a repeat of the performance they enjoyed on their last visit to the Canaries’ patch two seasons ago.
On that occasion, the Young Lions beat Romania 2-1, which helped secure them a place at the 2011 European Championships finals in Denmark.
For a repeat scoreline, bwin will give you odds of 29/4, but a wiser move given England’s recent form would be to bet on a score that sees them keep a clean sheet.
Their last three fixtures have resulted in 4-0, 2-0 and 1-0 victories over Belgium, Azerbaijan and Norway respectively,so backing Pearce’s men to win to nil looks a solid option at 27/20.
New customers registering with bwin receive a free £20 bet and placing this on England to triumph and keep a clean sheet would return £47 if successful.
With the return leg in Krusevac just four days after Friday’s first match-up, both managers will be desperate for a clean bill of health.
Unfortunately, Pearce has already suffered a number of setbacks, with Henri Lansbury and Nathaniel Clyne pulling out through injury and regular faces Ryan Bertrand and Jonjo Shelvey being promoted to the senior squad.
For the latter duo, the likelihood of them getting any pitch time for Roy Hodgson’s men against San Marino or Poland is minimal and in a peculiar way, their joy at being called up may be slightly offset by the disappointment of missing such a crucial Under-21s fixture.
The importance of a first-leg victory is paramount and with Stuart Pearce drilling that into his young guns, I cannot see a slip up for the English boys, so be confident in backing them to win, hopefully with a clean sheet to boot.
Recommended bet: England U21s to win @ 9/20
Outside punt: England U21s to win and keep a clean sheet @ 27/20
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