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 stats and facts

The best goalscoring streaks and the Premier League's oldest and youngest... here's Martin!...

Graeme Souness

Souness: Chelsea, City will progress

Graeme Souness tips Bayern Munich to win the Champions League, but says City and Chelsea could go close....

Paul Merson

Merse: Trophies far off for Arsenal

Paul Merson says Arsenal's defeat in Dortmund shows why silverware could be beyond them this year....

Latest News RSS feeds

Late Boateng strike sinks City

A deflected late Jerome Boateng strike against his former side was enough for Bayern Munich to beat Man City 1-0.

Chelsea held by Schalke

Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Schalke at Stamford Bridge in their opening Group G Champions League clash.

New Villa deal for Lambert

Aston Villa have announced manager Paul Lambert has signed a contract extension with the club until June 2018.

Solskjaer set for Cardiff axe

Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears set to leave the club following talks over his future, Sky sources understand.

B Munich v Man City preview

Manchester City face a stern test of their Champions League credentials as they open the group stage at Bayern Munich.

Features

Second guessing Guardiola

Second guessing Guardiola

As Manchester City fans arrive at the Allianz Arena for their Champions League opener, they will be confident that they know what their side will be up against.

EDEN HAZARD EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea’s No.10 on Champions League ambitions and setting Ballon d’Or targets

EDEN HAZARD EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea’s No.10 on Champions League ambitions and setting Ballon d’Or targets

When Chelsea conquered Europe for the first time in their history with an epic UEFA Champions League final win in May 2012, Eden Hazard was sitting, watching his television in a hotel room in France.

Champions League: In-form Chelsea new boys Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have unfinished business in Europe

Champions League: In-form Chelsea new boys Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have unfinished business in Europe

History has a way of filtering the noise and distilling lengthy stories down to their essence. The narrative of the 2012/13 Premier League season will always be that Manchester United bought Robin van Persie from Arsenal and promptly won the title.