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Focus called for in race for semi-final places

Published: Sunday 8 July 2012, 19.53CET
Group A draws to a conclusion on Monday with five-time winners Spain looking to advance to the last four as Portugal and Greece meet to determine their tournament fate.
by Paul Bryan
from Tallinn
Focus called for in race for semi-final places
Greece U19 coach Kostas Tsanas has called for his team to give their all against Portugal ©Sportsfile
Published: Sunday 8 July 2012, 19.53CET

Focus called for in race for semi-final places

Group A draws to a conclusion on Monday with five-time winners Spain looking to advance to the last four as Portugal and Greece meet to determine their tournament fate.

With three of the four teams in UEFA European Under-19 Championship Group A still in contention to qualify for the semi-finals, drama and excitement are guaranteed in the final round of games in the section on Monday.

Portugal and Spain head the standings on four points apiece and will go through should they earn at least a draw against Greece and Estonia respectively. A point back, Greece will be looking to have their own say in matters, however, and the third-placed side's coach Kostas Tsanas will send his charges out to gain the victory they need against Portugal in order to advance.

"We know that our opponents have a great team and they play high-quality football but we will be giving it our all in this match," Tsanas told UEFA.com. Greece narrowly missed out on a point in their 2-1 loss to Spain but recovered last Friday to defeat Estonia 4-1 to give themselves an opportunity of reaching a first semi-final at this level since 2007. "We will need to be at our best," Tsanas insisted. "We have to be prepared for a very tough match and to be totally focused if we want to go through."

Portugal coach Edgar Borges said his team will not be feeling satisfied with themselves after rescuing a 3-3 draw against Spain, meanwhile, and he assured that they will now be looking to seal qualification with a minimum of fuss.

"We are going to play this match as if it were a final; that's what we did in our win against Estonia and in the draw with Spain," he said. "We don't want to just say, 'Hey, we earned a draw against the European champions in our last match.' No, we want more. We want to play with dignity. We want to put on a show by playing good football."

Spain's Jesé Rodríguez scored a hat-trick in La Rojita's draw against Portugal, but he will be suspended for an encounter against Estonia that injured defender Javi Manquillo (ankle) will also miss. "There are no easy games here as we all know and we will face Estonia with all of the tension a match of this importance provides," coach Julen Lopetegui explained. "That said, we will go into the encounter with the hope and expectation of qualifying."

For his part, Estonia tactician Arno Pijpers believes his side will once again be up against it as they take on another formidable team, and he insisted that the collective focus of his players will be of vital importance at the Lilleküla Stadium.

"We will have to be mentally and physically strong against tough opponents," he said. "At the start of the finals, we had the aim of playing a good tournament and, although after two defeats we can't be 100% satisfied, the team didn't disappoint. Spain will provide us with a good test."

Last updated: 08/07/12 20.52CET

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