Team guide: Israel

Guy Luzon guides Israel as they host the UEFA European Under-21 Championship with the coach looking to improve upon the nation's sole trip to the finals in 2007.

Israel have enjoyed a decent run of form in 2012
Israel have enjoyed a decent run of form in 2012 ©IFA

The hosts are taking part in a second final tournament after their 2007 debut appearance in the Netherlands, where they bowed out after the group stage.

Guy Luzon's side began preparations in November 2010 when they overcame Belarus 2-1. Israel did, however, have to take a few backward steps before progressing forward, as they lost all six games they played the following year – including a 4-1 defeat by Group A rivals England in Barnsley. It was an unequivocally different story in 2012, with Luzon's team beating Ukraine (4-0), Belgium (4-1) and Belarus (2-0) and drawing against Russia (2-2). A draw against Serbia and 1-0 win against Slovakia in 2013 give the side hope of causing an upset on home turf, though defeats to Germany and the Netherlands sound a caution note.

Top scorer Orr Barouch made a big impact after being called up midway through the run of friendlies. The forward scored four goals in six matches, but the side suffered a blow when ever-present centre-back Sari Falah broke an ankle in January, and has not made the squad.

Israel did not earn a point or even score a goal during their 2007 finals debut, and Luzon is looking for a better showing on home soil. "We want to continue the progress we have made as a football nation. Hosting the tournament is important but now we must understand expectations are high. I believe we can do great things, otherwise I would not be here."