England Coach looking forward to Finals after learning fate.
UEFA European Under-21 Championship
2pm (GMT), Tuesday 9 November 2010
Aalborg, Denmark The Finals will take place from Saturday 11 to Saturday 25 June 2011
England Under-21s Coach Stuart Pearce spoke to TheFA.com after seeing his side drawn against Spain, Ukraine and Czech Republic at Tuesday’s draw for the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Finals.
England – the only team to have made it to a third successive Finals tournament – will play two of their three group matches in the Danish town of Herning, before moving to nearby Viborg for their last fixture, in an attempt to make it to the semi-finals and Final.
Immediately after the draw, Pearce said: “It’s a tough one, but we feel as though we’re improving as a nation. Whatever draw we’d have had would have been tricky.
“We have another eight months of development now for our players and I think at the end of that it’ll be a very interesting tournament. It’s very difficult, no doubt about that.
“The Czechs are the number one seeds, Spain are strong all of the time at all age groups and then there is ourselves and Ukraine.”
When asked if the tournament would be strange without the familiar names of Italy, France, Holland and Germany present, Pearce added: “Not for us, because England are there. For me, it’s probably the toughest tournament to win at international level.
“Only four teams qualified as runners-up from their groups for the play-offs – including us – and they’ve all made it to the Finals, which shows how difficult it is to get there.”
His side has experience of next summer’s opponents but Pearce says recent games against the Czech Republic and Spain will count for nothing: “The teams have changed that greatly that I think you take more from your qualifying campaign.
“I think the Czechs are favourites for the whole tournament because of the way they’ve qualified very comfortably, even in the play-offs.
“It’s a fantastic tournament and we’re really looking forward to it.”
He added: “As long as we come and give a good account of ourselves then we’ll be a difficult team to beat.
“This squad has improved after the first eight months of qualification, where we didn’t play very well. Since August we’ve played very well in our matches and found a good blend, a good mix in our players.
“One or two younger players have come in to the side and done extremely well, so the side is maturing nicely. I think the players will improve that little bit more in the time left before the tournament.”
Remember, you'll be able to follow England Under-21s all the way in the Finals with us on TheFA.com and during their build-up which starts next week with a friendly in Germany.
You can also get updates via www.facebook.com/EnglandU21s or www.twitter.com/thefadotcom