The Czech Republic, Romania and Germany will all be chasing one place in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-finals when Group B concludes on Monday afternoon.
Confirmed as group winners with two victories, the Netherlands take on the second-placed Czech Republic, who would book a last-four tie against Denmark with victory in Belgrade. A point behind the Czechs, Germany and Romania meet in Smederevo knowing that any slip-up from Josef Csaplár's side would allow them in. Should the Czech Republic lose and the others draw, they will be split first by goals scored between the three teams themselves, then overall goal difference and goals scored as per the regulations.
Czech captain Jan Štěrba will miss the game following his red card late in Friday's 1-1 draw with Germany, when his side conceded a last-gasp equaliser. Coach Csaplár will certainly not abandon his positive approach, though.
"We will try to play against the Netherlands as always," he said. "
We will try to play active and dominant football. We will not speculate or calculate. I want my players to grow and therefore it is important that we try to play our own football and don't play defensively, only hoping not to lose."
Albert Stuivenberg may already know his Netherlands side will take on the Group A runners-up in Novi Sad on Thursday, but will still expect maximum effort against the Czech Republic. "
We have to play the Czech Republic and we want to do a good job in that game too," he said. "The purpose of every game is to win."
The two teams beaten by the Netherlands will certainly hope they do win, and victory is paramount for 2009 champions Germany as their goal difference is inferior to Romania's. Coach Steffen Freund, whose team were staring at elimination after two saved penalties until Samed Yesil's late equaliser on Friday, is keen to make the most of that lifeline.
I hope we win against Romania and qualify for the semi-finals, because especially for these young players it would be very valuable to gain experience," Freund said. "And you only gain experience and grow when you play at the highest level. This here is the highest level and we want two more matches after the group stage, because I want my players to grow."
A draw against Germany would at least guarantee Romania third place and a FIFA U-17 World Cup berth in Mexico. For coach Adrian Văsâi, a debut in that competition to follow up their first appearance in the European finals at this age group is the priority. "
Our goal is unchanged – to reach the World Cup," he said. "We are fighting for this objective in this last game and a draw against Germany would be sufficient."
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