Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Euro U21 finals set

Qualification for next summer's UEFA U21 Tournament in Israel has finished with only England and Spain returning from the 2011 finals in Denmark.

All the big Euro guns have made it through this time, with the exception of France, eliminated by Norway in the playoffs.

Spain will be looking to regain their crown and erase the memory of their Olympic failure in London and Germany will be aiming to maintain the youth revolution which saw the likes of Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira take the stage at U21 level in 2009.

England offer Stuart Pearce a final chance to audition for the England senior job, while the Netherlands, winners in 2006 and 2007, are back having missed out on the last two finals.

Qualifiers:

England
Germany
Israel (hosts)
Italy
Netherlands
Norway
Russia
Spain (holders)

In 2013 the tournament travels to the far eastern reach of UEFA, Israel with games scheduled for four stadia:

Jerusalem (33,500), Tel Aviv (14,413), Netanya (13,800) and Petah Tikva (11,500) will host the finals from  the 5th to the 18th of June 2013.

Whilst Israel is in Europe for footballing purposes because the Arab nations in the AFC refuse to play them, the scheduling of a UEFA tournament in a high-profile trouble-spot has not gone all smoothly.

Eric Cantona was one of many who have spoken out against awarding a competition to Israel while certain footballers are imprisoned without trial, a protest echoed by the Palestinian F.A.

Next summer is sure to be another hot one for Michel Platini.

The draw for the finals takes place on the 28th of November.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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