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 have contested 11 friendlies since 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 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).
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 while centre-back Sari Falah did not miss a game. Gai Assulin is another promising talent, having just started his senior career at Real Racing Club after emerging from FC Barcelona's famed youth system. The midfielder will hope to live up to his demanding nickname – 'The Israeli Messi'.
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."
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