Stuart Pearce and his Euro 2013 counterparts expect a competitive tournament in Israel
and his Group A counterparts expect a tough tournament at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship
when it kicks off in June.
At the draw for the Finals in Tel Aviv on Wednesday
, Pearce saw his team picked out alongside hosts Israel, Norway and Italy.
Meanwhile, Group B features the last three winners of the competition; holders Spain, 2009 champions Germany and Holland, who lifted the title in 2006 and 2007, along with Russia.
Pearce, and the other three head coaches from Group A, are preparing for a very competitive opening stage as they all eye a top-two finish and a place in the semi-finals.
“We're in with the hosts and we've seen from past experience being in with Sweden [in 2009] how the home nation can lift their team,” said Pearce.
“I think everyone has expectations of what they deem as the strongest or weakest group and weakest teams but until a ball is kicked and you know how things have gone and the dynamics of group football, you never actually know.
“If people perceive that our group is a slightly easier group, the one thing you do know, if it is the case, whichever teams get out of it will probably have the toughest semi-final, so it counts both ways.
“We feel we have a tough group and we hope to give a good account of ourselves against three really good nations.”
Guy Luzon, Israel’s coach, added: “It's a great challenge for us – England, Italy, it's the highest level of European national teams. We will do our best, and it will be OK.
“England are a fantastic team, most of their players play in the Premier League and most of our players play in the Ligat HaAl in Israel, so it will be difficult, but it's not impossible.
“Now we are looking forward to June. We are very excited about this competition, about hosting it, and the atmosphere will be really good. It will be fantastic.”
Per Joar Hansen, the coach of Norway, has recent experience of facing England having lined up in the same qualification group as Pearce’s youngsters.
“We are satisfied – we hoped we wouldn't meet Spain and that we'd meet Israel,” he said. “We know the home team is a very tough task with the home crowd, and their enthusiasm but we are happy.
“We met England in our qualifying group twice, the two games were equal [though England won both]. We know it's going to be tough but also that we'll have a chance.
“We know Italy are a very good team, it’s a tough group but we are positive. The rankings show England and Italy will be the favourites, with Israel and Norway the outsiders.”
Devis Mangia, Italy coach, is not convinced that being labelled as ‘favourites’ will have any benefit.
“The eight teams here are all very competitive, so I didn't really have any preferences,” said Mangia.
“What I can say about the other group is that there are teams in it that we know better than the teams that we will face in our group so now we have to focus on learning things about our opponents.
“People might talk about England and Italy as favourites – for me they have the most experience of such competitions.
“But there are two sides to that because as we saw, Norway eliminated France and France were one of the big favourites for this competition.”
He added: “Israel is a growing nation and the host team. They will definitely have the crowd on their side.”
Venues and match days are yet to be confirmed by UEFA but we will bring you information here as soon as details are confirmed. The Final tournament will take place at four venues in Israel - Tel Aviv, Netanya, Jerusalem and Petah Tikva - from 5-18 June 2013.
| Group A