Our reporting team in Israel draw lessons from the third games at the WU19 EURO, reflecting on the four teams that have bowed out and Friday's semi-final lineup.
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Germany always find a way
On Friday Germany will contest their tenth semi-final in what is the 14th edition of this tournament – a remarkable record. Maren Meinert rued her side's fortune in Saturday's 2-0 defeat by Norway but could have no complaints on that front against Spain. Germany went ahead through Rocío Gálvez's unusual own goal, Spain squandered a host of chances and 17-year-old Lena Pauels made a fantastic save to keep out Laura Ortega's late header – an equaliser and Germany would have been out, with Norway advancing in their stead.
England and Norway fall just short
There was no questioning the effort in Ramla as both sides tried to put themselves in contention for a last-four spot. That little bit of quality and composure in the final third was just lacking. Norway were always dependent on Germany slipping up against Spain, and knew it made no difference whether they won or drew – ultimately, Nils Lexerød was left to rue their heavy opening-day defeat. England, undermined by late set-piece goals in their first two games, needed a two-goal win to have any chance and it never looked likely. How much difference would their eight players missing through injury and club duties have made?
France will need to show more in the semi
They are one of the top sides in the competition and yet to concede a goal, but France are going to have to dig a little deeper against Spain on Friday. Tuesday's scrappy 1-0 victory over Sweden came through an own goal and plenty of stoic defending. France let things slip and were lucky to come away with a win when Sweden clicked into gear in the last 20 minutes. Sweden boss Calle Barrling was pleased with his side's tenacity and points out that matches are won and lost in the dying stages. France may not be allowed to let their guard down a second time.
Women's football in Israel hits new heights
Israel's last WU19 EURO qualifying campaign brought defeats by Croatia (5-0), Azerbaijan (5-0) and Austria (8-0) – all teams that have never reached these finals. They have come a long way since, and their academy bore fruit over the past week. The team captured the affection of the crowds and on Tuesday came the highlight as Eden Avital scored their first finals goal. Coach Guy Azouri has vowed to keep up the momentum – starting with September's qualifying round when Norway will be among their opponents.
Papua New Guinea, anyone?
"Getting to the U-20 World Cup has determined the next 18 months for us," said Meinert after sealing one of the last-four berths and with it a trip to the tournament in Papua New Guinea next October/November. All four semi-finalists said this was their first target, to keep the squad together for as long as possible. With that achieved they can focus on the next one, getting to the WU19 EURO final. They are well-matched lineups, pitting together the technical sides of France and Spain, and the more physical, tactical approaches of Germany and Sweden.
Tickets for Friday's semi-finals cost 10ILS (€2.50) and are available either at the stadiums or via this link. The site is in Hebrew.