England enters their final UEFA Under-21 Championship match with nothing to play for after stinging defeats at the hands of Norway and Italy to open the final stage, but Israel have quite a bit more at stake.
With a draw and a loss through two matches, the Israelis need a convincing win over England and a big Italy win over Norway to slide into the championship semifinals. Anything short of that scenario will result in both teams making an early exit from the tournament.
Israel can only control their side of the equation, however, and part of that equation involves needing a six-goal swing in a Norway loss. Given England’s struggles in the tournament, Israel could be in line to gain a sizeable chunk of those goals in this contest.
But Stuart Pearce’s side still have pride on the line, and with an early exit already facing them following the match, England will be playing like a team with nothing to lose. After all, they really do have nothing to lose.
Let’s take a look at the vitals for this match and preview each team’s starting XI and keys to victory.
Where: Teddy Stadium; Jerusalem, Israel
When: Tuesday, June 11, at 11 a.m. ET
Television and streaming: ESPN3
England Starting XI
Israel Starting XI
|Omri Ben Harush|
How They Got Here
On Day 1 of the championship, Israel squared off with Norway to the tune of a 2-2 draw, resulting in the Israeli side’s only point of the tournament thus far. If they can’t find a way to pick up a few more Tuesday, the result will be an exit alongside their English counterparts.
Make your pick for the England vs. Israel UEFA Under-21 finale.
Day 2 of the championship round was what dug Israel in a hole, however. Facing a stout Italian side with a bevy of scoring threats, the Israelis dropped a blowout contest 4-0 and saw Eyal Golasa earn a red card and a suspension for the England match.
With plenty of young talent needing extra work, Golasa’s loss shouldn’t be a major setback, but in a battle for a semifinals berth, Israel needs all hands on deck.
Israel coach Guy Luzon is realistic about his expectations for the tournament, however. He knows England won’t be an easy team to upend on Tuesday, as quoted by Boaz Goren of UEFA.com:
I knew from the beginning that we had three teams that are equal—England, Italy and Norway. One of them had to go and in this case it was England. We were very realistic about our chances of going through and I'm certainly not one to build expectations so high.
Expectations may not be high, but with a little luck, Israel still has a chance to keep playing into the next round.
While England have nothing to show for their first two contests of the championship round, they did fare much better against a tough Italian side on Day 1, dropping a close contest 1-0. But with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Norway on Day 2, England’s championship hopes vanished and enter this match with little to play for.
Though pride has to count for something.
As quoted by Goren, England coach Stuart Pearce doesn’t want his squad to go out in the bottom of the group:
This is our last game of this tournament and it's important that we go out with a victory—we don't want to finish bottom of the group. The players are very disappointed by the results of the first two games but they've kept focused, the training has been very good and the application has been fantastic. They're desperate to put in a performance.
Apart from leaving in the bottom of the group, England is also trying to avoid becoming just the second team in the history of the tournament to leave the championship stage without a point to its name, the first of which was Israel in 2007.