Head Coach Brian Eastick looks at the possible permutations in Group B ahead of Sunday's games.
England v Greece
UEFA European U19 Championship
The U Nisy Stadium, Liberec, Czech Republic
6pm (local time) Sunday 20 July 2008
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England U19 Head Coach Brian Eastick takes his team into Sunday’s Group B decider knowing that even a victory won’t guarantee the Young Lions progress into the semi-finals on Wednesday.
With Group A all decided on Thursday with Germany and Hungary winning their first two games, things are wide open in England’s group with Czech Republic, Italy and Greece all having a chance to progress to the final four.
If England beat Greece in Liberec on Sunday and Italy don’t beat the Czech Republic in their match in Mlada Boleslav, then Eastick and his team will be through.
The group has been tight so far, with the Czech Republic’s win against England in the opener being the only victory whereas Group A has been the opposite with Germany and Hungary winning their first two matces to dump pre-competition favourites Spain and Bulgaria out.
“It’s very difficult to predict, because there are eight very good teams and then Spain have gone out of the competition now after two games,” said Eastick, ahead of Sunday’s game.
“Everyone was saying before the tournament that Spain were the favourites and I said that I was glad they weren’t in our half of the draw because they have a terrific record at this level.
“It’s very hard to predict what’s going to happen, but I’m optimistic and confident that we can beat Greece.
“I was a little bit surprised that the Czech Republic didn’t beat Greece because they’re physically the strongest team. I thought that they were strong against us but we gifted them two goals.
“Our future isn’t in our own hands, but the good thing is that the Czech Republic still have something to play for and had they not had anything to play for, we might have had a problem.
“With both games kicking off at the same time, they can’t run the risk of playing for a draw, they have to go for a win and so do Italy.
“So if we do our job properly we still have a decent chance of going through I think.”
England are boosted with the news that Greece forward and star man Sotiris Ninis will be absent for the game following a sending off against the Czech Republic.
The Panathinaikos star received two bookings and as a result is suspended for Sunday’s clash, but Eastick knows that England still need to focus on their own performance firstly.
“I think Greece are very good technically and we’ve seen quite a bit of footage of their game with Italy but they defended for long periods of that game because they were 1-0 up and the momentum was with Italy to get the equaliser,” he explained.
“Stuart Pearce and Trevor Brooking have been to watch their game and we’ll see the DVD and have a look at it, but I expect a really tough game.
“At the risk of sounding boring, there aren’t going to be any easy games.”