Play to win
By Nicholas Veevers in Tallinn
Monday, 09 July, 2012
U19s Head Coach Noel Blake will not be setting out for a draw against France on Monday.
England U19s Head Coach Noel Blake says his side will be setting out for three points against the French on Monday and hoping to top the Group B table en-route to the semi-final of the European Championship.
As things stand, France have already qualified for the next stage and are top of the group with two wins from their two games, whilst England are in second spot on four points.
That means a draw will be enough to take Blake's side into the last four, but a win would see them leap-frog France into top spot and keep his side's momentum building. A defeat could still see them qualify for the semi-final, but would depend on the outcome of the game between Serbia and Croatia in Rakvere.
However, one thing that Blake was only too keen to mention ahead of the match in Tallinn is that his side will be going into the game with the ambition of collecting three points.
"I never play for a draw, it's a dangerous thing to do," said Blake. "I've always been brought up that way, I grew up at a club playing European football in Aston Villa so I know the mentality and what's expected. The expectancy is to go out and play to win.
"They've won two games and already qualified, but that hasn't surprised me.
"They have a very good mentality and have a varied approach to the game and they're a technical side as well so they're an impressive team."
It won't be the first time that the two sides have met this season, as they shared a 2-2 draw last year in a mini-tournament in Limoges and of course it was in this year group that England beat France in the semi-final of the U17 Euro Finals in 2010.
This is a different scenario altogether though, and Blake won't be treating it in any other way.
"We were involved in a tournament with them, Portugal and Ukraine earlier this season last October. It was a very good tournament too and they're a decent side.
"As far I'm concerned though, that's in the past. There are different players and every game is a new challenge.
"Whilst we have beaten them in the past, that's all it is, with different players and surroundings here."
With Pierre Mankowski's side already through and with a number of their players picking up bookings in the first two matches, there is a chance that the coach may choose to make some changes to his line-up.
However, that isn't something which worries Blake, who could also make alterations to the team which started the last game against Serbia on Friday.
"I don't have any concerns on what the opposition do. I've always been a coach who tends to focus on what my team does," he added.
"Sometimes you can get over zealous about what the opposition do and you can lose focus on what you're about.
"Whatever France do, we'll deal with it as best we can and play our own game."
The match kicks-off at 6pm BST and will be shown live on Eurosport, and you can also follow our updates here.