Creative Soccer Culture

Framed #144 | England U21 v France U21

With English attention firmly on the Lionesses and events in France so far this summer, the European U21 championship in Italy may have flown under the radar for some. But with a plethora of talent at Aidy Boothroyd’s disposal, hopes were high for England’s young Lions going into their opening fixture against France in the Orogel Stadium. A fixture with potential in more ways than one for our ‘Framed’ series.

England came into the game with only one loss in their last 20 matches, though that defeat came in their last outing against Germany. Equally, France came into the game having lost their last game, finding themselves on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline against Austria. Both sides were keen to get off to a winning start here though, with Boothroyd describing the tournament as knockout football from the start.


In the opening 20 minutes England looked good for three points; a dominating display only missing a finishing touch as the young Lions carved the French open at will. But errors snuck into the game, as did the French; the impressive Henderson keeping the game scoreless with several saves, including one from the spot from Dembele. 

As Phil Foden channelled his inner Gazza in the 55th minute, beating five men during a mazy dribble before slotting home calmly into the bottom corner of the French net, the travelling England fans could be forgiven for thinking that it was going to be the desired start to the tournament. But then the (red) card was removed from the bottom of the house in the form of Hamza Choudhury's ill-judged challenge and subsequent VAR-awarded marching orders, and the whole lot came crashing down. 


Not straight away, mind – first came a resilient 25-minute display in which you thought England just might hold out, fighting off cramp and the inevitable French onslaught. But it wasn’t to be and a late strike from the ever-dangerous Ikone followed by a stoppage-time Aaron Wan-Bissaka own goal sealed the young Lions’ fate. Mistakes proving costly for England, who must now rally in their remaining two group fixtures if they’re to have any hope of extending their stay in Italy.

25-framed-england-italy-u21-min.jpg 22-framed-england-italy-u21-min.jpg

Photography by Giacomo Cosua for SoccerBible.

Daniel Jones

The Creative Soccer Culture Brief

Sign up to our newsletter and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the world of Creative Soccer Culture.