Pearce: We won't underestimate Finns
Sunday, 14 June, 2009
Stuart Pearce says his team are fully focused on their first match
Click here to watch the video from the press conference
Stuart Pearce says his team will go into their opening match of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in the right frame of mind as they prepare to face Finland.
The Orjans Vall stadium in Halmstad will set the stage for the tournament’s opening match on Monday night, and Pearce says the Three Lions will not underestimate their Finnish opponents.
“Their attitude on the training camp and their focus off it has been fantastic,” said Pearce, “as good as I’ve ever known it with any club or any squad I’ve been involved in as a player or a manager.
“I’ve got competition for places, a lot of talent here, 23 players all vying for a place in the starting line-up. This will be the strongest Under-21 tournament there’s ever been, no doubt about that, the fact that there’s 50-odd countries in Europe vying to win it tells you that.”
Pearce added: “You can’t underestimate anybody in international football; it’s impossible now. I’ve seen enough games of the Finnish side – six matches – study them exactly how we would any other nation in Europe.
“We’re totally respectful of any team we play. I don’t see any underdogs here. Any one of these eight teams can win this tournament. Whoever you play on any day you need to be at your out-and-out best to be competitive and if you’re not you’ll get beaten, simple as that.”
But as with any match that England face, Pearce has looked at every aspect of his opponents to ensure his side are fully prepared for what lies ahead.
“Finland’s strengths are organisation and the collective spirit of the team is very strong. I like Sparv, think he’s a very good player. I like the manager, very level headed man, very focused.
“Through the team it’s almost a settled side, give or take one or two positional changes the Finnish team know how to play alongside and with each other. I’m sure they’re looking forward to the game as well, their first major championship, and I’m sure the support which will come across the border will be very good.
“I’m very excited and so should all the players from every nation. We have players with experience and talent and have competition between numbers one and 23 to start the game.
“When you see the focus of the players, every day that I get out of bed I look forward to working with these players as I know they’ll give me everything that they’ve got.”
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