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Euro U21 players to watch in knockouts: Camavinga, Wirtz and more

This article was first published on March 24 and has been updated.

The UEFA European Under-21 Championship knockout stages begin on Monday, May 31 (watch LIVE on ESPN3 and ESPNU) and, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament being held in Hungary and Slovenia is a bit different to usual.

Firstly, because the senior Euro 2020 tournament has been pushed back to this summer, the U21 Euros started in March instead of June. It has also been split into two stages: The group stage arrives from March 24-31 and then the knockout round from May 31-June 6. With only nine days of football in total.

The games will take place in four Hungarian cities (Budapest, Gyor, Szekesfehervar and Szombathely) and four Slovenian ones (Ljubljana, Koper, Maribor, Celje). Here’s everything you need to know.

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Groups and Schedule

The tournament increased from 12 to 16 teams this year. There were four groups of four, with the top two from each group progressing to the quarterfinals.

Group Stage: March 24-31

Group A: 1. Netherlands 2. Germany 3. Romania 4. Hungary

Group B: 1. Spain 2. Italy 3. Czech Republic 4. Slovenia

Group C: 1. Denmark 2. France 3. Russia 4. Iceland,

Group D: 1. Portugal 2. Croatia 3. Switzerland 4. England

Quarterfinals: May 31

1. Netherlands vs. France, 6 p.m. CEST / 12 p.m. ET / ESPNU
2. Denmark vs. Germany, 9 p.m. CEST / 3 p.m. ET / ESPN3
3. Spain vs. Croatia, 6 p.m. CEST / 12 p.m. ET / ESPN3
4. Portugal vs. Italy, 9 p.m. CEST / 3 p.m. ET / ESPNU

Semifinals: June 3

1. Netherlands/France vs. Denmark/Germany, 9 p.m. CEST / 3 p.m. ET / ESPNU
2. Spain/Croatia vs. Portugal/Italy, 6 p.m. CEST / 12 p.m. ET / ESPNU

Final: June 6

The final is being held at the 16,000-capacity Stadion Stozice in Ljubljana.

Players to watch (by Tor-Kristian Karlsen and David Cartlidge)

The Premier League was well represented with the well-established likes of Chelsea‘s Callum Hudson-Odoi and Arsenal duo Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe included in the England squad, though the Young Lions crashed out in the group stages.

Teams have been allowed to add new players to their 23-man squads, including France’s Dayot Upamecano and Houssem Aouar. So who will be making a name for themselves in the knockout stages?

Netherlands: Myron Boadu, ST

A forward with little else than the opposing goal in mind. The AZ youngster rarely participates in the build-up phase, but is ruthless inside the penalty area. He averages a goal every other game in the Eredivisie, is able to finish from anywhere inside the penalty area and loves running onto deep through-balls. Dynamic and powerful, he only needs little space to pull the trigger. — TKK

France: Eduardo Camavinga, MID

Two years and over 60 games on from his Ligue 1 debut, the Rennes midfielder is one of the most promising teenagers in world football. Initially fielded as a holding player, Camavinga has also occasionally featured in the No. 8 role this season. Left-footed, excellent on the ball and with a game intelligence well beyond his years, the 18-year-old marked his second (of three) full caps by getting on the scoresheet against Ukraine last October. A delightfully agile player, able to dictate and influence the rhythm of the game, he’s a reported €60m target for PSG and Real Madrid. — TKK

Denmark: Victor Nelsson, DEF

The captain of the Danish side has already been capped at senior level and is being courted by clubs from the European top leagues (FC Copenhagen always drive a hard bargain, which is likely to be the reason why he’s still there). A determined, strong-minded centre-back with nearly 150 league appearances, he has won around three quarters of his aerial challenges this season. — TKK

Germany: Florian Wirtz, MID

A first full season with Bayer Leverkusen has been an immense success for Wirtz, with the 18-year-old scoring seven goals and assisting seven times in 37 games. He’s often deployed in attacking midfield and looks to roam into the final third with his brilliant dribbling. Not only does he have an eye for a pass and the ability to bring others into play, his dynamic movement means he can go for goal himself too. Expect him to cut in from wide areas, but when Germany need some spark he can provide a contribution from a central position too. — DC

Spain: Marc Cucurella, DEF/MID

Barcelona finally made the decision to let Cucurella go in 2020 after he came through their academy, but it hasn’t halted the 22-year-old’s progress one bit. A loan to Eibar proved to be the perfect first step outside of La Masia to develop his game before a move to Getafe rounded him off. His speed, energy and commitment in wide areas is notable and he can feature both as a full-back and winger. His attacking output has been a key feature of Getafe’s play over the last couple of the seasons and he will look to provide similar for Spain as one of the more senior players. — DC

Croatia: Domagoj Bradaric, DEF

The Lille left-back played 26 times for the club on the way to the Ligue 1 title this season and is the most accomplished player in an unusually unspectacular crop of Croatians. Though a respected full-back in French football, he has struggled to keep his place this season due to adverse form, a few decisive personal errors and limited attacking contribution. Even so, Bradaric is still considered as one of the up-and-coming left-backs in European football. — TKK

Portugal: Diogo Leite, DEF

The 6-foot-4 centre-back has yet to nail down a regular starting place with FC Porto but an impressive tournament with Portugal could see him grab it next season. He’s not only a strong, combative competitor but he’s also smooth in possession. Expect Portugal to ask him to step out of defence regularly, linking with midfield and providing build-up from the back. A regular at all youth levels with Portugal, his experience will be key and he boasts plenty of confidence in his game to take that responsibility on. — DC.

Italy: Gianluca Scamacca, ST

Scamacca has been the recent difference maker for Italy. The 22-year-old frontman started the season in fine form, scoring goals for Genoa as well as the U21 national side, but went on a 14-game barren spell in Serie A before finishing with 12 goals in 29 games. His game can falter if his confidence dips but Scamacca, who spent two years at the PSV academy as a teenager, can be a handful with his aerial power and strength. — TKK

Sourced from ESPN

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