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Preview: Spain Under-21s vs. Portugal Under-21s - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Spain Under-21s vs. Portugal Under-21s - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's European Under-21 Championship clash between Spain Under-21s and Portugal Under-21s, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Spain Under-21s and Portugal Under-21s meet in the European Under-21 Championship semi-finals on Thursday evening after participating in one of the most thrilling last eights in major tournament history.

Both nations needed extra time to overcome Croatia Under-21s and Italy Under-21s respectively, defying last-gasp equalisers to secure their progress.

Match preview

Having twice witnessed his side give up a lead against Italy on Monday night, Portugal boss Rui Jorge would have feared that his talented squad were about to leave their potential unfulfilled.

However, taking advantage of their opponents being at a player disadvantage, Esperancas eventually prevailed by a 5-3 scoreline helped by extra-time goals from Jota and Francisco Conceicao.

Jorge knows that his side must improve to get the better of Spain later this week, but Portugal have now prevailed in their last 11 contests.

Helped by an early double against Italy, Monza star Dany Mota is receiving growing interest after his performances for his country.

Nevertheless, this is a squad full of talented players, and there is every expectancy that they will defeat their more illustrious rivals in Maribor.

Spain will only be regarded as the marginal outsiders for this fixture, particularly when you take into account that they have not lost since 2019.

Luis de la Fuente's team have been far from convincing in their last three outings, however, with victories over Czech Republic and Croatia only being recorded as a result of strong finishes.

La Rojita are missing Dani Gomez for the remainder of this tournament, but Javi Puado stepped up in his absence with a timely double in the last eight.

These two nations have no recent history at this level of football, only increasing the anticipation as Portugal look to dethrone the defending champions.

Spain Under-21s European Under-21 Championship form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W

Portugal Under-21s European Under-21 Championship form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Puado will almost certainly earn an opportunity in the Spain starting lineup, taking the place of Fer Nino.

Having played extra time, further alterations are expected with Gonzalo Villar and Marc Cucurella also in contention for a recall.

While Jota and Conceicao both scored as substitutes on Monday night, the pair could remain among the Portugal replacements.

Despite his importance to the team, Vitinha may drop down to the substitutes' bench after being the only midfielder to complete 120 minutes versus Italy.

Florentino Luis or Romario Baro may be given a run out in place of the Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee.

Spain Under-21s possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Mingueza, Guillamon, Cuenca, Cucurella; Zubimendi, Beltran; Diaz, Garcia, Gil; Puado

Portugal Under-21s possible starting lineup:
Costa; Dalot, Queiros, Leite, Tavares; Fernandes, Braganca, Luis; Vieira; Ramos, Mota

We say: Spain Under-21s 1-2 Portugal Under-21s

While both managers will need to give consideration to rotation, we feel that will only play into the hands of Portugal.

On paper, they have the greater strength-in-depth, and we are backing Jorge's men to edge their way into the final.

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