Around the U21 camps: Tuesday

With the start of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship now in sight, looks inside all eight team camps and reflects on their final day of preparations in Israel.

Russia players enjoy the atmosphere of their team camp ahead of their first game on Thursday
Russia players enjoy the atmosphere of their team camp ahead of their first game on Thursday ©Getty Images

Group A

Stuart Pearce and Jordan Henderson gave their pre-match press conference at the Netanya Municipal Stadium at lunchtime, with the England coach saying forward Wilfried Zaha is available to face Italy despite a "tight" ankle. Pearce added that his players could not be happier at their base in Caesarea and does not think the high temperatures will cause them a problem. "The good thing is the matches are in the evenings when it will be cooler; the weather won't play any part," he said.

England captain Henderson, meanwhile, spoke about facing his Liverpool FC team-mate Fabio Borini on Wednesday: "I have trained with Fabio Borini and know he is great at finishing. We have to get tight on him. There is a lot of very good quality in their team but if we do it right we have a really good chance."

For Israel, Tuesday was the final day of almost three years of preparation and the atmosphere was relaxed in the press conference before the match against Norway. Coach Guy Luzon played down his focus on the opposition – "if you know the guy is from Barcelona or Dortmund, they play differently" – but talked up the significance of the occasion.

Luzon spoke of Israel's "great honour" at hosting the tournament, where the opening match will be played out before an expected full house of 13,800 fans at the Netanya Municipal Stadium. In their last training session, Luzon practised defending set pieces – not one of this Israel side's strong points.

The Italy squad did no work during the day, saving their energies for an evening session on the perfect-looking pitch at the Bloomfield Stadium, where they will play their first game against England. Devis Mangia spoke to the press at 20.15 local time alongside Azzurrini captain Luca Caldirola and the coach said: "There is no pressure, just the desire to play this game. We are strong as a team, especially in attack. We must be careful – England are also a big team and we have to be focused."

Tor Ole Skullerud has already told his team his starting XI for Wednesday's meeting with the hosts but he declined to share that information with the press – meaning we will have to wait to see the solution to his goalkeeping dilemma. Skullerud's three keepers all stand a chance: Arild Østbø played seven times in qualifying but Orjan Nyland Haskjold has just broken into the Molde FK starting XI and Gudmund Kongshavn has made a late push with his form for Vålerenga Fotball.

Incidentally, coming from the far north of Europe, the Norway players have been limited to 60 minutes in the sun per day to avoid the risk of too much exposure to the heat here.

Group B

At a press conference at the Germany team hotel in Tel Aviv today, Pierre-Michelle Lasogga and Sebastian Rode underlined the huge level of confidence in the camp. "Everything is possible for us," said Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Rode. "Our team has a lot of character and we tick every box for us to deliver a good performance." Lasogga added: "We are playing this tournament to win it, you can tell in each training session how eager the players are."

They showed no signs of pressure given the light-hearted mood in a photo-shoot and after some team meetings the squad then headed to their Hodorov training ground to fine-tune preparations for the Netherlands match on Thursday.

Tuesday was exactly seven years since a Netherlands side containing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar among others lifted the UEFA European Under-21 Championship trophy, but Jong Oranje defender Stefan de Vrij was not getting carried away by that anniversary. "It's a motivation but it's no guarantee you will get that far, because there are a lot of players who don't," he told "[Being here] means you are doing well, but you have to improve and learn because we are still young and we want to get to that level. We have to work hard to get there."

Coach Nikolai Pisarev announced on Tuesday morning that injured striker Aleksandr Kokorin would be replaced by 18-year-old Andrei Panyukov from FC Dinamo Moskva. Meanwhile, defender Georgi Schennikov and third-choice goalkeeper Stanislav Kritsuk both played a full part in training having previously missed the friendly against Maccabi Ironi (7-0) on Monday – the latter with flu. Panyukov was the only player to train alone during Tuesday's evening session in Bat Yam.

While more than 300 people turned out to watch the Spanish training session on Tuesday, Julen Lopetegui still has not given any clues about the lineup for his team's opener against Russia. The club jerseys of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid CF, Club Atlético de Madrid, Athletic Club and Manchester United (for David de Gea) were all noticeable among the crowd at the Kfar Saba Stadium.

With just two days to go until they begin their title defence, Spain's players are ready for action, captain Thiago Alcántara telling that "our memories are refreshed by playing in this great tournament and we look forward to contesting it".