Ready for Rakvere
By Nicholas Veevers in Tallinn
Friday, 06 July, 2012
Noel Blake expecting a tough encounter with Serbia, but ready for the test in Rakvere.
England U19s go into their second game of the Euro Finals on Friday afternoon and Head Coach Noel Blake is expecting nothing less than a tricky encounter with Serbia in Rakvere.
The Serbians lost their first game against France by 3-0 earlier in the week, so know that they need a result from this game if they are to stand a chance of progressing to the semi-final.
And after studying Serbia's performance against Les Bleus, Blake admits that he is expecting a different prospect in opposition for England this time, both in terms of their personel and attitude.
"We didn't learn a great deal from watching it, if I'm honest," said Blake. "I know Serbia are better than what they showed against France otherwise they wouldn't be here but we've seen previous games from before the Finals too and they can be a dangerous opponent.
"I thought France played very well, but also that Serbia can do a lot better. It will be a challenge, but we know that we'll give them a good challenge too."
England started their campaign with a point from the first game against Croatia on Tuesday and whilst Blake was disappointed with his team's first-half display in that game, he knows that it is a solid base from which to build upon with both a semi-final spot and World Cup qualification in sight.
"We're still very much in the tournament and we go into the game with a lot of optimism, but also know that it will be very difficult and it's one that we're looking forward to," he added.
"As we've seen in the senior European Championships, Czech Republic for example, made a slow start but then went through to the next phase and that's tournament football for you.
"In the past, there's been a mentality that if you don't win your first game then it's the end of the world, but that's not the case. We're in a tournament, we'll take each game as it comes and we're looking forward to the next challenge, which is Serbia."
Of course, this sort of scenario is nothing new to the majority of the England squad and with the U19s still yet to taste defeat in this campaign, spirits remain high as the competition starts to really get into its rhythm.
"The mood is very good," revealed Blake. "The players have been a good group in terms of team harmony all season and they've continued that here.
"They have a lot of tournament experience and they know that yes, they wanted to win the game on Tuesday but sometimes you can't always win the game. But you don't have to lose the game."