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Israel and Norway aim for winning return

Published: Monday 3 June 2013, 8.13CET
Both Israel and Norway are in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship for the second time with the hosts especially eager for a positive start in Group A.
Israel and Norway aim for winning return
Israel want a positive start to Group A ©IFA

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Goals scored3
Attempts on target6
Attempts off target14
Fouls committed35
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Published: Monday 3 June 2013, 8.13CET

Israel and Norway aim for winning return

Both Israel and Norway are in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship for the second time with the hosts especially eager for a positive start in Group A.

Israel and Norway have waited a long time to return to the UEFA European U21 Championship final tournament and will be eager to make a positive start when they meet in the opening round of Group A games.

• Hosts Israel made their only previous appearance in the finals six years ago, although Norway's wait has been even longer; they finished third in the 1998 competition, but that was the last time they progressed from qualifying.

• The man who led Norway to these finals, Per Joar Hansen, left to take charge of Rosenborg BK in December 2012. His former U21 assistant Tor Ole Skullerud was appointed as his replacement with the national team on 3 January.

How they qualified
• Israel qualified automatically as hosts, and will appear in the final tournament for only the second time having made their debut in 2007.

• Norway finished second behind England in Group 8 with a record of P8 W5 D1 L2 F13 A7. They then overcame France in the play-offs, overturning a 1-0 loss in the away first leg with a 5-3 home victory.

Previous meetings
• This will be the teams' first competitive meeting at U21 level. Norway were, however, 2-0 winners against Israel in the 2008 European U19 Championship elite round thanks to two Peter Orry Larsen goals. Amin Nouri, Håvard Nordtveit and Harmeet Singh all started for Norway with Ben Butbul in the Israel lineup and Boris Klaiman an unused substitute.

Match background
• Israel's only previous final tournament appearance came six years ago, when a team coached by Guy Levy lost all three fixtures in the Netherlands, against Portugal (0-4), Belgium and the hosts (both 0-1).

• Israel have won three of their last four competitive U21 contests and both their last two having ended their unsuccessful qualifying campaign for the 2011 finals with a 5-0 home win against Montenegro and a 2-1 success in Sweden.

• Norway have also featured in just one finals to date, back in Romania in 1998. Having qualified ahead of France, they defeated Sweden 1-0 in the quarter-finals thanks to a Steffen Iversen goal but lost by the same scoreline to Spain in the last four. Nils Johan Semb's side bounced back to defeat the Netherlands 2-0 in the third-place play-off, however, Iversen scoring in each half (17, 74) to secure the spoils.

Team ties
• Norway's Omar Elabdellaoui and Nir Biton of Israel were both in the Manchester City FC team for a 1-0 friendly defeat by Al-Hilal FC in Innsbruck, Austria on 13 July 2012. While trialist Biton played in the first half, Elabdellaoui came on at the interval.

• Thomas Rogne plays alongside senior Israeli internationals Beram Kayal and Rami Gershon at Celtic FC.

Israel news
• The Israel squad is free of injury as Munas Dabbur, Orr Barouch and Edi Gotlib are all over the setbacks that sidelined them for the back end of the domestic season.

• The team paid a visit to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the opening match. Netanyahu asked the team to represent Israel with honour and added: "Sometimes I try to play football myself but it doesn't end well."

• Guy Luzon, who will leave after the tournament to coach Belgian side R. Standard de Liège, said of the opening match: "It will be the most exciting day of my life."

• Three days before their opener against Norway, the players and staff attended Eyal Golan's show in Jerusalem. A former footballer, Golan is now a professional music artist who wrote, and sings, the official tournament song.

Norway news
• The squad were put through their paces one last time in Oslo before travelling to Israel on Saturday.

• There are no fresh injury concerns for coach Tor Ole Skullerud since AZ Alkmaar midfielder Markus Henriksen replaced defender Alexander Groven, ruled out with a thigh injury on Monday.

• Valon Berisha, Joshua King, Håvard Nordtveit and Henriksen are part of the senior squad to face Albania in a FIFA World Cup qualifier on Friday, therefore missing Norway's Group B opener.

• "We are looking forward to playing against the best young players in Europe, and we know that we have lots of quality in our side as well. Our aim has to be to compete for top spot in the group," said former Manchester United FC striker King.

Last updated: 03/06/13 19.46CET