UEFA.com brings you up to date with the eight teams' activities on the eve of the opening game of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in the Czech Republic.
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The hosts have no fitness concerns ahead of Wednesday's opening game with Denmark, but they will be without suspended duo Tomáš Kalas and Václav Kadlec. The former's absence could be keenly felt against a Danish side who were the qualifying phase's top scorers, but captain Jakub Brabec told media at the pre-match press conference that their back four were ready for 90 minutes without the Chelsea defender. "We know about that, and we're going to cope with it," the Sparta Praha man said. "The defence is ready."
Fitness concerns over Pierre Højbjerg were eased as he took part in the squad's training session at Stadium Eden ahead of Wednesday's Group A opener. The Bayern midfielder took no risks, however, stretching comprehensively before joining in and sharing more than the odd joke with Jannik Vestergaard. "It looks OK," said coach Jess Thorup of Højbjerg's hamstring injury. Yussuf Poulsen trained with strapping on his right thigh, but did not appear inhibited, while Thorup confirmed that Jakob Busk would play in goal against the hosts.
"It makes little sense to play with eleven goalkeepers or eleven individualists," said coach Horst Hrubesch, who was in jovial mood as he eluded journalists' questions regarding his lineup for the match against Serbia. The 1980 UEFA European Championship winner was accompanied by a world champion – Matthias Ginter – at the press conference, which was preceded by a light training and regeneration session at the hotel and followed by a first acquaintance with the Letná Stadium in Prague, for which Hrubesch had all men on board.
Speaking to media ahead of his country's pre-match training session at the Letná Stadium, Serbia captain Marko Petković hailed the squad's spirit before they take on Germany. "The atmosphere in the team is wonderful and we are very much looking forward to the start of the tournament," the Crvena zvezda man said. "Germany are one of the best teams here and they are the favourites, but we've proven that we can compete and win against anyone."
Before training on Tuesday afternoon, England captain Jack Butland and midfielder James Ward-Prowse visited the Heyrovského School in Olomouc and participated in a training session with pupils. The school has close ties with local club Sigma Olomouc and is the alma mater of four members of the current Czech U21 squad. Ward-Prowse spoke afterwards about the determination and togetherness of this England squad: "We're not just here to take part in it – we're here to win it. That's the vision not only among the players but the staff as well. We are all together and it is a very good, family-knit unit at the minute."
The Azzurrini squad rested in the morning before the goalkeeper trio, Marco Sportiello, Francesco Bardi and Nicola Leali, spoke to the media. Bardi, who played in Israel two years ago and is again likely to feature between the posts, explained: "We want to do well and play a starring role. We want to show all of Europe that young Italian players are good. I don't see a favourite, but many teams can compete for the trophy." In the afternoon, the squad's first training session on Czech soil was a closed one.
Portugal started the day with a UEFA briefing on match fixing and anti-doping before another training session in Uherske Hradiste. Despite the fact that he is already a regular choice in Portugal's senior squad, Sporting midfielder William Carvalho could not be happier with taking part in the U21 finals. "It's always a huge source of motivation to be in the national team, regardless of the level you are playing at. Normally, it is very important to win the first match at a tournament like this one, but there have been cases when you qualify after going down at the first hurdle, so you never know."
The Sweden squad had a mixed zone with journalists before working in training on set pieces and their tactical preparations to face Italy on Thursday. The full group trained, including forward Isaac Kiese Thelin, who had received treatment for a heel complaint when on senior international duty last week. Oscar Lewicki, the Malmö midfielder, said afterwards: "We've had two training sessions with really good intensity. There are a lot of smiles and happy faces, but we mustn't forget why we are here. We have to stay focussed and get ready to perform. We have rehearsed set pieces today and we already know a lot about Italy. We are aware of the things we have to do ourselves when playing against them."