Preview: England v Sweden, Ireland v Spain
Monday, 14 July 2014
An untried England side, "the youngest Sweden team ever" and Irish debutants installed as dark horses by first opponents Spain – Group B is impossible to predict.
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The 2014 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship kicks off on Tuesday and the wide-open theme to the tournament is exemplified by Group B, which features an untried England side, "the youngest Sweden team ever" and Irish debutants installed as dark horses by first opponents Spain.
England v Sweden
Two of the tournament's previous winners meet in Tonsberg as England take on Sweden. There are positive omens for both teams. Calle Barrling's side beat England en route to lifting the trophy for the first time in 2012. Three years before, it had been a very different story as the Lionesses defeated Sweden twice – the second time in the final – as they triumphed.
Brent Hills, interim England manager
I'm holding the fort for Mo Marley. I'm managing all the squads within the FA from under-20s down so it's great to be involved with the girls, face to face. Eleven players eligible for this tournament will be going to the forthcoming U-20 [Women's] World Cup and it is a fantastic opportunity for the other girls to play here – 17 of them could play next year, four in two years. We'll be striving to win every game, though. This is not just preparation.
Calle Barrling, Sweden coach
Preparations have been better than ever and we really feel comfortable. This is so close to Sweden – we could have travelled on our bikes. The England players are largely unknown but we are familiar with their style of play. We know what English teams are looking for in defence and attack. We have picked the youngest team ever – we have many talented 17-year-olds. We want to play as many games as we can. We like winning. At least four; why not five?
Republic of Ireland v Spain
Ireland will become the 25th nation to grace the finals on Tuesday and Spain coach, Jorge Vilda, says the newcomers could be dark horses in Norway. The Iberian side, of course, know all about causing upsets in this competition: in 2004 they caused perhaps the biggest shock of all when they won the final against a Germany side that had beaten them 7-0 a few days earlier.
David Connell, Republic of Ireland coach
I'm relaxed and the team seem to be the same. No nerves as yet but I'm sure there'll be a few. It's a case of my staying as relaxed as I always am – I'm not a throw-a-teacup-around-the-room kind of manager. I'm very easy-going with them and if they need to be told what to do, I'll tell them what to do. It's a big step for some of them so we'll have to see how they go. We've had a bit of stick [about our playing style] but we can play. We'll make it difficult for the other teams.
Jorge Vilda, Spain coach
We want to start with a win. The other three teams are all strong so we shouldn't be deceived by team names and previous achievements – the Republic of Ireland could be dark horses for the tournament. Sweden and England are traditionally strong teams. Normally we're not as physically strong as the other teams in our group; we have to compensate with technical ability. My ambitions for the next two weeks? I'll start with three points tomorrow.