Blogs & Opinion


Alan Smith tips a Spain-Holland final at the Euro U21s in Israel

Alan Smith - Alan Smith Posted 13th June 2013 view comments

Alan Smith thinks Spain and Holland will edge into the Euro 2013 Under-21s final by winning Saturday's semi-finals against Norway and Italy respectively.

Spain v Norway

On paper, you'd think this would be quite a one-sided game because Spain have loads of quality. They haven't always been the most exciting to watch because they often just keep the ball and don't go anywhere with it.

The Spain squad is littered with stars, says Smith

The Spain squad is littered with stars, says Smith

The Spanish have managed to find goals when they've needed them, though. The boy Alvaro Morata has come off the bench and done well.

They are two teams with contrasting styles. Norway have got some very good players of their own but the fact that Spain outclassed Germany the other night tells its own story. I saw Germany on Wednesday night and they aren't too shabby and have some good players. Spain will be strong favourites against Norway.

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

European Under-21 Ch'ship semi-finals
Spain v Norway
4pm, Sat, Sky Sports 2 HD
Italy v Holland
7pm, Sky Sports 2 HD\n

The Spanish boys are incredibly talented. In the first game, the Russians opted to try to man-mark Isco, they feared him that much. I also love Thiago - he's a wonderful player and will be a huge star in the future. He's really intelligent and a lovely passer of the ball and the same with Iker Muniain.

If they have a flaw, it's that they lack a really top quality centre forward but the team's full of players that can hurt you. Isco hasn't taken teams apart on his own like we've seen him shine for Malaga - Spain have dominated possession. Sometimes it's passing for passing's sake but it's difficult for the Norwegian coach who has a difficult job with approaching this game.

Norway have some promising players as well. The boy who scored against England, Jo Inge Berget, looks good. They've got a great work ethic and they'll follow the coach's orders to the letter but they've also got that little bit of quality going forward. They can't be discounted but they'll have to play extremely well and get a little bit of luck to beat Spain.

Alan predicts: Spain 1-0 Norway

Italy v Holland

This one is difficult to call. Italy have a star on their hands in Marco Verratti. England found him difficult to handle and he's a Champions League player with Paris St Germain. That tells you something that a team with the resources of PSG have faith in the young Italian. He'll definitely be a star in the future.

I really like Manolo Gabbiadini up front, too. I think he's a really good player. They have a really good array of choices in attack, which is probably their strength here. Their defence, unusually, isn't their strongest suit. When you think about them going forward with the likes of Gabbiadini, Ciro Immobile and Mattia Destro, they've got some really serious options.

Holland were beaten 3-0 by Spain on Wednesday night but this is a different game and it will be a different team. It's going to be interesting because they've got a lot of options, too. When they beat Russia 5-1, they brought some players off the bench and you couldn't really see the join. They have some clever players technically as you'd expect from the Dutch.

They showed against Russia how confident they are in one-on-one situations. Ola John - brother of Collins John - impressed me on the left-hand side and is very quick and powerful. I like Luuk de Jong, too. He's not the tallest but can still win the ball in the air. They can hit long balls because he holds it up well, too. The midfielder Marco van Ginkel is another very clever player and a lovely passer of the ball.

Alan predicts: Italy 1-2 Holland

Post to your View!

Be the first to post a comment on this story

Add Comment*

Send us your views

Are you a Sky Sports subscriber?

*All fields required, your email address will be kept private

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Martin Tyler

Tyler's Xmas stats

Martin Tyler brings you the most interesting Christmas Day and Boxing Day facts from over the years....

Latest News RSS feeds

Boxing Day live

Follow all today's football live with scores, news video and analysis from the 10 Premier League games.

Big Sam wins over Mourinho

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has backtracked on his '19th-century football' jibe at West Ham ahead of the Boxing Day showdown.

Bench warning for Balotelli

Mario Balotelli has been warned by Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers to get use to life on the bench.

Ten questions for Boxing Day

Where will Wayne Rooney play for Man Utd against Newcastle? We look at the talking points on the Premier League agenda.

Merson's predictions

Paul Merson expects Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd and Liverpool to seal Boxing Day victories.

Features

Happy Hammers: Five reasons for West Ham's good form

Happy Hammers: Five reasons for West Ham's good form

Adam Bate looks at five reasons for West Ham’s impressive upturn in form so far this season...

Festive tests

Festive tests

While titles can't be won or lost at Christmas, the festive schedule is a key spell in the Premier League calendar with plenty of points up for grabs.

Sky Sports Fantasy Football: Our scout looks at which players you should consider signing for Boxing Day

Sky Sports Fantasy Football: Our scout looks at which players you should consider signing for Boxing Day

The crucial festive period is upon us and, with games coming thick and fast, here are five in-form players to consider for your Sky Sports Fantasy Football team.