Our U19s insider blogs on the other important side of 'tournament experience'.
By Nicholas Veevers in Estonia
The European U19 Championship Finals of 2012 are well and truly underway and following Tuesday's opening set of matches in both groups, we're already into Matchday Two as England prepare to take on Serbia in Rakvere later.
It should make for an intriguing game as both teams will feel they can improve on their opening day performances. Whilst England made a solid enough start by getting a point against Croatia in Tallinn, they will be looking to make a better start than they did at the Kadriorg Stadium where they were fortunate to still be level at half time.
There was a marked improvement after the break though and in the end, Noel Blake's side could quite possibly have won it against a Croatian side who were looking increasingly desperate and tired in the closing stages.
Serbia know that they absolutely have to improve from their first game showing, when they were swept aside by France to the tune of 3-0. Looking back at that match, the Serbs never really got to grips with the French midfield and they paid the price with Les Bleus getting all of their goals in the first half before Serbia were reduced to ten men as big striker Aleksander Mitrovic was sent off for violent conduct, meaning he will miss Friday's match against England. It's a blow for Serbia, but gives the opportunity to someone else to take his place.
With a squad of 18 men out here, Blake himself might choose to make some changes to his line-up. Both Jack Robinson and Nathan Redmond caught the eye after their substitute appearances on Tuesday but as the Head Coach has alluded to on numerous occasions already this week, this is tournament football and the whole squad could be needed at some stage so players are expected to be ready with only two days between each match.
The group have now been together for nearly two weeks and the spirit remains high. When people refer to the 'tournament experience' that players gain from competitions like this, it's not just the on-field action and unpredictable sequence of results to which they're referring.
What the public don't see is that there is a lot of 'down-time' for the players inbetween matches, training and meal times and this is something which has to be managed accordingly by themselves. Given their physical exertions on the pitch and in training, the lads clearly they can't spend their spare time doing anything too taxing so it's something they get more and more used to with every tournament and most of the players here have already experienced a few of those.
This competition is less than a fortnight long, so compared to a senior World Cup or European Championship, it's a lot shorter even with the build-up, but it still gives the players a taste of what they can expect in the future should they progress to that sort of level.
So whether it's films, music, video games or books, each player has to come prepared for their rest periods in a far-away hotel room and the amusing side of it as far as the staff here are concerned, is the current craze in the squad revolving around 'chick-lit' novel 'Fifty Shades Of Grey'.
It started at Heathrow Airport on the way here last week, when a few of the players purchased the paperback of the E.L James smash hit for the trip, after no doubt hearing about it through various mediums. Since then, those copies have been passed on to the next person and the trend seems to be growing.
Although, there have been no requests for the sequel as yet.
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