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Lowdown on the Under-21 contenders

Published: Wednesday 28 November 2012, 18.29CET
Following the Tel Aviv draw for the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Israel next June, UEFA.com offers a guide to the eight teams in the tournament.
by Simon Hart
from Tel Aviv
Lowdown on the Under-21 contenders
UEFA European Under-21 Championship trophy ©Sportsfile
 

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Published: Wednesday 28 November 2012, 18.29CET

Lowdown on the Under-21 contenders

Following the Tel Aviv draw for the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Israel next June, UEFA.com offers a guide to the eight teams in the tournament.

Group A

Israel
Last participation: 2007 (group stage)
• Qualified as hosts, Israel are participating in a UEFA European Under-21 Championship final tournament for the second time.
• They will want to improve on their only previous tournament in 2007 in the Netherlands, where they lost all three games without scoring.
• If Israel are drawn to face the Netherlands, it will be a repeat of their opening game in 2007, when they lost 1-0 to the then hosts in Heerenveen.

England
Tournament wins: 1982, 1984
Last participation: 2011 (group stage)
Play-off result: Serbia, 1-0 home, 1-0 away
• This is the fourth successive tournament for England – the only team among the eight finalists to have qualified for the last four.
• Stuart Pearce took his team to the final in 2009 in Sweden but they lost to Germany.
• England's five-goal top scorer in qualifying was a defender, Craig Dawson. 

Norway
Last participation: 1998 (semi-finals)
Play-off result: France, 0-1 away, 5-3 home
• Norway caused a big surprise by eliminating France in the play-offs.
• The Norwegians were the only team to finish second in their qualifying group – behind England – and still reach the finals.
• On their solitary previous finals appearance, in 1998 in Romania, Norway lost in the semi-finals to Spain.

Italy
Tournament wins: 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2004
Last participation: 2009 (semi-finals)
Play-off result: Sweden, 1-0 home, 3-2 away
• Italy have the best record of any country at U21 level – with five tournament victories.
• The Azzurrini reached the semi-finals the last time they took part, in 2009.
• Italy coach Devis Mangia replaced Ciro Ferrara six games into the group phase of qualifying, after Ferrara left his post for UC Sampdoria.

Group B

Spain
Tournament wins: 1986, 1998, 2011
Last participation: 2011 (won)
Play-off result: Denmark, 5-0 home, 3-1 away
• Spain are defending the title they won in 2011 in Aarhus, Denmark.
• They came through qualifying unbeaten, winning nine of their ten matches and conceding just three goals.
• Spain had the top scorer in qualifying, the 11-goal Rodrigo.

Netherlands
Tournament wins: 2006, 2007
Last participation: 2007 (won)
Play-off result: Slovakia, 2-0 away, 2-0 home
• The Netherlands are taking part for the first time since winning the trophy on home soil in 2007 to complete back-to-back tournament triumphs under Foppe de Haan.
• Cor Pot's side conceded just three goals in ten qualifying games.
• The Netherlands' biggest U21 tournament wins came in the 2006 and 2007 finals – when beating Ukraine 3-0 and Serbia 4-1.

Russia
Last participation: 1998 (quarter-finals)
Play-off result: Czech Republic, 2-0 away, 2-2 home
• This is Russia's first appearance in a U21 final tournament for 14 years.
• Nikolai Pisarev's youngsters are looking to emulate their Soviet Union forebears who were champions twice, in 1980 and 1990.
• They won their qualifying group ahead of Portugal and eliminated the Czech Republic in the play-offs.

Germany
Tournament wins: 2009
Last participation: 2009 (won)
Play-off result: Switzerland, 1-1 home, 3-1 away
• Germany are back after failing to qualify for the 2011 tournament when they were defending champions.
• Rainer Adrion's side had the best attacking record in the group stage of qualifying with 39 goals from 10 games.
• Germany's 4-0 victory over England in Malmo in 2009 was the biggest winning margin in a U21 final.

Russia
Last participation: 1998 (quarter-finals)
Play-off result: Czech Republic, 2-0 away, 2-2 home
• This is Russia's first appearance in a U21 final tournament for 14 years.
• Nikolai Pisarev's youngsters are looking to emulate their Soviet Union forebears who were champions twice, in 1980 and 1990.
• They won their qualifying group ahead of Portugal and eliminated the Czech Republic in the play-offs.

Last updated: 28/11/12 19.50CET

http://www.uefa.com/under21/news/newsid=1899990.html#lowdown+under+contenders

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