England U-19 qualified for the Euro finals on Friday with a resounding win over Spain U-19. Not only did the Young Lions defeat their rivals, but England U-19 completely dominated them in a 3-0 victory.
The team were in electric form with Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold setting the tone for the match. The England U-19 fullback struck just nine minutes into the fixture. He doubled the lead after the break from the penalty spot and Arsenal’s Chris Willock put things to bed in the 86th minute for England U-19.
The win was England’s second of the week after the youngsters beat Norway by a similar 3-0 scoreline. Friday’s win over Spain at St. George’s Park puts the team in the UEFA European U-19 Championship finals.
Success at England U-19
Keith Downing’s side become the ninth England U-19 team to qualify for the finals. The finals of the tournament will be held in Georgia in early July. Despite the success that England have had at the youth level, the team have not won the European U-19 Championship since 1993.
Although the team did have a runners-up performance in 2009, the Young Lions success has been fleeting in the last 20-plus years.
Does the Premier League affect England U-19?
The last win at the finals in 1993 came in the summer immediately following the English Premier League’s inaugural season. Since the start of the Premier League, the teams that make up the top-flight have seen the arrival of players from abroad more than ever before.
Spots at the top-level for burgeoning young players have become extremely limited. These spots that once went to young Englishman are now filled by players from around the world. Meanwhile, the English youngsters once bled into English teams are either sent out on loan, kept in youth teams or sent to the reserves. Breaking through at the senior level has never been more difficult.
Friday’s goal scorer Alexander-Arnold has already seen first team action under Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp this season. It may not be long until the Englishman is in the team every week. West Ham’s Reece Oxford is another player that has seen time playing first team football with both the Hammers and on loan at Reading. Nottingham Forest’s Ben Brereton has also seen plenty of action for his team. The 17-year-old forward has scored three times in 10 games.
Are the Young Lions the future?
The senior national team have greatly underachieved for all the individual player billing over the last two decades-plus. The fresh blood in Downing’s team and the chances being afforded some of the players can only improve their development.
Whether the players can continue to prove themselves once they are regulars in their respective senior sides is the big question. For now, it looks like this England U-19 team have all the tools to win the country’s first under-19 title since the early 90s.