Football fans will be flocking to the Czech capital as the UEFA U21 European Championships kick off this evening. The Czech Republic get their campaign underway against Denmark and will need every ounce of the home support crammed into the Eden stadium to advance from a tough looking group that includes tournament favorites Germany.
The competition maybe classed as “Under 21” in age group but ironically only 32 of the 184 players on show over the next two weeks fall into that category – as UEFA rules state that players must have only been under 21 (born in 1992 or earlier) during the qualification campaign.
This ensures that some of Europe’s top talent will be on show in Prague and this is clearly evident when looking at Germany’s squad. Marc-André ter Stegen is 23 years old and has a Champions League winner’s medal to his name, while Robin Knoche, Kevin Volland and Phillip Hoffman all have plenty of Bundesliga experience to call upon.
Meanwhile, England’s wealth of attacking options have been well documented with Harry Kane, who has had a €30m+ price tag slapped on his head, leading the way for the English. Italy, too, have travelled to the Czech Republic with a blend of youthful exuberance to compliment the more experienced players.
Domenico Berardi, who is part owned by Juventus, has over 30 Serie A goals on his CV and looks a world class player in the making. While his teammates Danilo Cataldi, Stefano Stuaro and Daniele Rugani look set for a big two weeks in the Czech Republic.
Portugal can also call upon some on Europe’s top talent in their bid for success this summer. Monaco’s Bernardo Silva is highly thought of and has plenty of Champions League experience, while 23 year-old William Carvalho has reportedly drawn admiring glances from Arsenal and Manchester United.
Regardless of the opposition, though, the Czech fans will be hoping the experienced trio of Pavel Kadeřábek, Ladislav Krejčí and Václav Kadlec do the business and emulate the class of 2002 when Petr Čech and Milan Baros lifted the trophy and cemented their place in history.