Luzon and Platini 370.
(photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Israel under-21 national team coach Guy Luzon said the blue-and-white will enter
next summer’s European Championship with a positive attitude despite labeling
his squad as the weakest side in Group A following Wednesday’s draw in Tel
Israel was placed in one group with England, Italy and Norway, with
the top two to advance to the semifinals. The tournament will take place from
June 5- 18, 2013 at four venues: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Netanya and Petah
“This is an easy group. We are the clear favorites,” Luzon joked
before revealing how he really felt about his team’s chances.
“We are the
weakest team in the group, but that will not result in us entering the
tournament with a negative attitude.
“We will do all we
Israel didn’t need to qualify for the championship being the host
team, but it has shown some real promise in its recent friendly matches, beating
Belgium 4-1 among others.
“We are the clear underdog.” Luzon added. “All
the other teams wanted us in their group.
“We will do our best to narrow
the gaps between us and the other teams, but it is like the difference between a
Premier League and second division side.”
England qualified for the final
tournament with a 2-0 aggregate victory over Serbia and its squad for next
summer is expected to include the likes of Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain,
Liverpool’s Rahim Sterling and Manchester City’s Jack Rodwell.
with the hosts and we’ve seen from past experience being in with Sweden [in
2009] how the home nation buoy up their team,” said England coach Stuart
“Everyone has expectations of what they deem as the strongest or
weakest group and weakest teams, but until a ball is kicked you never actually
“Even if our group is a slightly easier group, the one thing you do
know is that whichever teams get out of it will probably have the toughest
semifinal, so it counts both ways.
“We feel we have a tough group and we
hope to give a good account of ourselves against three really good
Norway caused the upset of the playoffs by knocking out France,
but Italy coach Devis Mangia is expecting a stern test against both Norway and
Israel, who are considered to be the weakest teams in the
“The eight teams here are all very competitive, so I didn’t
really have any preferences,” Mangia said.
“What I can say about the
other group is that there are teams in it that we know better than the teams
that we will face in our group, so now we have to focus on learning things about
“People might talk about England and Italy as favorites –
for me they have the most experience in such competitions, but there are two
sides to that because, as we saw, Norway eliminated France and France were one
of the big favorites for this competition.
“And Israel is a growing
nation and the host team. They will definitely have the crowd on their
Group B will be contested between defending champion Spain,
Germany, Netherlands and Russia.