Julen Lopetegui knows a "hard challenge" awaits holders Spain in Group B after they were drawn to face fellow recent winners Germany and the Netherlands as well as Russia.
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"A hard challenge" was the verdict of Julen Lopetegui, coach of Spain, after the holders found themselves pitted against two other recent winners, Germany and the Netherlands, and Russia in a formidable-looking Group B for next summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
Julen Lopetegui, Spain coach
It will be a hard challenge. We were drawn into a strong group, we knew this could happen. It will be a very difficult group at a very high level. We are looking forward to this and are happy with the challenge. It's correct [that the past three tournament winners will meet] and they are teams that have done very well in their qualifying games, but this can happen with draws and it is what has actually happened to us. We have to face this with joy, desire and strength, and that's it. We can't change it.
Cor Pot, Netherlands coach
I'm very happy with these very strong opponents, because this is what we want: the best teams against us so we can meet each other on a high level. They'll be amazing matches. [It couldn't have been harder] but also for them. So I'm very happy, because it's a very interesting group, a very strong group, the strongest group. This is what they want, the players: they must play on the highest level, against the best teams in Europe, probably the world, so I think it's only good for them to learn a lot and to reach a higher level again.
Nikolai Pisarev, Russia coach
It's good that we'll face strong opponents because at [UEFA EURO 2012] Russia were in a group that everyone called 'easy' along with teams like the Czech Republic, Poland and Greece. In the end, the strong team [Russia] didn't qualify from the group. That's why I'm satisfied with the draw; it will force us to be at our best from the start. I would say that if we qualify from this group, we will push to become the champions.
Rainer Adrion, Germany coach
We've been drawn in a strong group with favourites like Spain and the Netherlands. We played a great qualifying campaign, so it will certainly be very interesting for the fans. It may be hard, but it also makes the situation very interesting. We'll have to be at it in the tournament from the first minute and be very well prepared. We'll be ready for our first match and will try to make a good start to the tournament.