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Pearce and Milla wary of Czech threat

England's Stuart Pearce said the Czech Republic "are probably favourites" while Spain coach Luis Milla also tipped Jakub Dovalil's side after being paired alongside Ukraine in Group B.

Pearce and Milla wary of Czech threat
Pearce and Milla wary of Czech threat ©uefa.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.

Spain coach Luis Milla and England counterpart Stuart Pearce both identified the Czech Republic as the team to look out for after the UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals draw paired all three teams alongside Ukraine in a tough-looking Group B.

Stuart Pearce, England manager
A very tough group, we're in no doubt about that. The Czechs were the No1 seeds, Spain have a very strong side in all age groups, ourselves and Ukraine; it's a very tough group but an interesting group. At the moment maybe the Czechs are favourites for the whole tournament because of the way they qualified very comfortably, even in the play-offs. It is a fantastic tournament, we are certainly looking forward to it and are pleased to be here.

We have seven months to prepare and it gives me an added focus. With young players you never know of their development but as long as we come and give a good account of ourselves we will be a difficult team to beat. The side is maturing nicely. There are some powerhouse nations in France and Italy who are not here now which shows how difficult it is to win this trophy.

Luis Milla, Spain coach
Not an easy draw. I think it's a strong group with big teams that had very impressive qualifying campaigns – the Czechs had some extraordinary results. We were in the same group as the Netherlands and know they are a top side, so the fact Ukraine then beat them in the play-off tells you all you need to know about the Ukrainians. Basically, any of the seven teams would be difficult opponents, so we are treating the competition with full respect and humility.

We have a certain style, a way of playing, a football culture if you like, and we aren't going to veer away from that. We are going to play our way and we'll work really hard in doing so. I think there is always an element of pressure on us. Our other underage teams have been having a lot of success and deserve a lot of credit, but we have to look at what we do and try to have the best possible campaign.

Jakub Dovalil, Czech Republic coach
It is obviously a very tricky group, but you never know. I think we are a strong team. I really think we can progress and qualify for the next stage.

It is hard to predict, but all the teams in the group are strong. Obviously Spain and England are top teams in Europe, but I think it will be very difficult to beat Ukraine and we must prepare very well to face our opponents. I think we can qualify for the Olympic Games.

Pavlo Yakovenko, Ukraine coach
We have a tough group, but weak teams never qualify for the final tournament and I don't consider our group to be stronger than the other one. The stronger the rivals, the more interesting the games. All three teams are different in style but very strong.

The Czech Republic prefer a physical style, the Spaniards are technically gifted, while England have a mixture of both, but we have no preference as to who we play. We want to win every single group match and the whole tournament as well. We have no minimum target and will strive for the maximum.