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Nov 28, 2012

England get favourable draw

England will face tournament hosts Israel after being drawn in Group A for next summer's European Under-21 Championships.

Stuart Pearce's Young Lions had a 50-50 chance of drawing Israel or Spain and while facing the home team presents a different challenge, the England boss may well be relieved to avoid the current holders.

Pearce also avoided one of the continent's most highly rated youth teams, with Germany drawn in Group B alongside Spain, Netherlands and Russia.

England will also take on Norway, who they beat home and away in qualifying, and Italy. The tournament runs from June 5-18.

Spain and England are the only two nations who participated at Euro 2011 to qualify this time around. Spain beat Switzerland 2-0 in the final in Aarhus, Denmark.

Pearce said: "I thought the draw would only serve to underline what we already knew - that we will have to be at it from the off to beat the very best young teams in Europe if we are to succeed in this tournament. We are in with the hosts and they'll be backed by some great home support.

"Norway we know all about and there was very little between us in qualifying. Italy are technically very difficult to break down and we have experience of them in the past. On paper, it might look easy, but it never works that way. We are excited by it.

"We shouldn't forget that, as much as we're looking around at other teams and talking about their qualities, they'll be looking at us and probably talking in the same terms about our qualities.

"After all, we are a team that has just gone through a calendar year unbeaten and without conceding a goal - few can boast a record as solid as that. That is credit to the players. This will be our fourth tournament, and we'll bring great experience with us in the summer, especially within my staff.

"That doesn't guarantee success, of course, and we'll need a strong squad, who are fit and in form. We are coming to Israel to win it. During my time, we have lost a semi-final on penalties, lost a final and gone out in the group stages, so we have experienced most everything in this competition, except winning it.

"That was our target at the start of the qualification campaign and we are aware of what's in front of us, but we want to win it. For a lot of the young players lucky enough to experience these finals, it will prove to be an invaluable time in Israel, not least with a World Cup on the horizon in Brazil.

"We have had a good period here in Israel and have a good idea of hotels and training bases now. This will be confirmed as soon as UEFA decide on the match schedule.''

Matches will take place in Tel Aviv, Petah Tivka, Netanya and Jerusalem.

Top two teams go through to the semi-finals

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