Israel hoping to save face versus England

After embarrassment against Italy, blue-and-white aiming to end Euros on sweet note.

June 10, 2013 22:48
2 minute read.
Israel Undetr 21 National Team Coach Guy Luzon

Guy Luzon 370. (photo credit: Uzi Gal)

On paper, Israel still has a chance of reaching the European Under-21 Championship semifinals.

However, even coach Guy Luzon admitted that the blue-and-white’s final Group A match versus England at Teddy Stadium on Tuesday is far more about pride than it is about points.

After conceding a stoppage-time equalizer to draw 2-2 with Norway in its opener, Israel’s campaign fell to pieces with a 4-0 trouncing by Italy in its second group match.

Israel can still leapfrog Norway into second-place in the group and advance to the semis, but it would need a combination of a victory over England, a Norway loss to Italy and a six-goal swing in its favor.

“As things currently stand Norway and Italy are going to advance to the semis and they deserve to,” Luzon said on Monday. “We will do our best regardless of our chances of advancing, but we are not thinking about progressing to the next stage at the moment.”

After criticizing the fans for jeering the team during the defeat to Italy at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday, Luzon insisted on Monday that the vast majority of supporters were “amazing” and he’s certain that will also be the case in Jerusalem.

“Nothing could be better than to end the tournament in Jerusalem,” said Luzon, who will join Belgian club Standard Liege after the tournament. “I’m ending three years as the Under-21’s coach and I’m really sad.”

England has already lost all hope of qualifying for the last four after losing both its matches against Italy and Norway, but Luzon is still expecting a stern test on Tuesday.

“A match against England is never easy,” Luzon said. “We are in the third tier of European soccer and not the first tier like the other teams in the tournament and I said that even before the matches began. I didn’t create high expectations.

“Honestly, I’m not disappointed. A draw against Norway is normal for Israel and against Italy I’m satisfied with how we played until we lost a player to a red card. We will give our best against England.”

England coach Stuart Pearce will soon be out of contract and his future with the team remains uncertain. Pearce said he hopes to remain in charge of the Under- 21 side and a failure to defeat Israel on Tuesday will surely not help his chances.

“I can guarantee that when we take to the field against Israel we will do everything we can to win the match,” he said after the 3-1 loss to Norway. “We’ve got out of the tournament so far what we deserved, which isn’t much. We have to make sure as a group that we try and beat Israel.

“We’re disappointed. We’re out of the competition,” Pearce added.“I don’t think the players have done themselves credit to be honest with you, individually and collectively. We have got nothing out of this tournament so far and now we have to concentrate on doing things properly for the tournament’s sake and beat Israel.”

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