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Serbia steeled for Group 3 challenge

Published: Thursday 24 May 2012, 13.45CET
Serbia are looking to make the most of home advantage to oust 2008 champions Germany, last season's hosts Romania and Hungary, who will stage the 2014 final tourament.
Serbia steeled for Group 3 challenge
Horst Hrubesch guided Germany to U19 glory in 2008 ©Sportsfile
Published: Thursday 24 May 2012, 13.45CET

Serbia steeled for Group 3 challenge

Serbia are looking to make the most of home advantage to oust 2008 champions Germany, last season's hosts Romania and Hungary, who will stage the 2014 final tourament.

HUNGARY
Hungary will host the finals in 2014 but have not qualified since reaching the semi-finals four years ago. Their recent form has been encouraging, however, with a 0-0 draw against Italy and a 5-0 win in San Marino in April; they also reached the final of a mini-tournament in Rome, losing 12-11 on penalties to Romania after a goalless draw having beaten Slovenia (2-0) and an Italian league XI (3-2). "We are in a tough group but we need to stay calm and relax," coach Frigyes Tuboly told UEFA.com. "The most important thing will be to play simply and offensively. If we do our best I'm sure that we will play tight matches against Romania and Serbia and even Germany."

Key players
Patrik Poór (defender, MTK Budapest), Krisztián Adorján (midfielder, Liverpool FC), Márk Szécsi (forward, Debreceni VSC), Bálint Vécsei, (forward, Budapest Honvéd FC)

Qualifying round
San Marino 5-0, Faroe Islands 3-1, Portugal 3-3 (second in Group 1)

GERMANY
Horst Hrubesch – who guided the side to U19 glory in 2008 – has overseen two friendly wins against Egypt (2-1, 3-0) and a goalless draw in the Czech Republic, stretching their unbeaten run to nine games. However, Julian Draxler has been included in Germany's preliminary UEFA EURO 2012 squad, while attacking midfielders Sonny Kittel and Leonardo Bittencourt are missing through injury. "Coach Hrubesch had just told me I'd be his captain, and now this," said Bittencourt, who has torn sinews in his left knee.

Key players
Dominique Heintz (defender, 1. FC Kaiserslautern), Antonio Rüdiger (defender, VfB Stuttgart), Nico Schulz (defender, Hertha BSC Berlin), Sead Kolasinac (midfielder, FC Schalke 04)

Qualifying round
Northern Ireland 5-1, Montenegro 2-0, Belarus 3-3 (first in Group 7)

ROMANIA
A year after hosting the finals, Romania are in fine form having recorded 13 victories, two draws and only two defeats – both in August – which included an unexpected win against Italy in the qualifying round. "That wasn't a miracle – overall we were better," said head coach Ovidiu Stângă, whose side triumphed in a friendly tournament at the start of this year having beaten Israel twice and Cyprus. "Most of our team play at a high level either at home or abroad, some for the first team, and there's competition among them which improves the quality," said Stângă. "We will go for it, everything is possible."

Key players
Nicolae Stanciu (midfielder, FC Vaslui), Steliano Filip (midfielder, FC Baia Mare), Claudiu Bumba (midfielder, FCM Târgu Mureș), Cristian Gavra (forward, FC Viitorul Constanța)

Qualifying round
Italy 2-1, Azerbaijan 3-0, Sweden 0-0 (first in Group 3)

SERBIA
Head coach Zoran Marić is without injured ACF Fiorentina defender Matija Nastasić and FK Partizan forward Lazar Marković. An under-strength squad lost all three games in a friendly tournament in Portugal against the hosts (2-3), France (0-2) and Georgia (2-3). That followed a goalless draw in Belgium and a 3-0 success in Luxembourg, while third division club FK Senta were beaten 5-1 in Serbia's last warm-up match. "It will be a very hard competition," said Marić. "Germany are the favourites, Romania will come with a strong team and Hungary can always surprise. As hosts we'll have pressure but we'll try to use that the right way."

Key players
Srdan Mijailović (FK Crvena zvezda, midfielder), Nikola Ninković (FK Partizan, forward), Marko Poletanović (FK Vojvodina, midfielder)

Qualifying round
Lithuania 0-0, Israel 1-0, Czech Republic 0-1 (second in Group 5)

Last updated: 24/05/12 14.16CET

http://www.uefa.com/under19/news/newsid=1795141.html#serbia+steeled+group+challenge

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