Friday, July 16, 2010

England's Kids Can Ease World Cup Hangover !

The very best of this country's young talent hope to put a smile back on the face of English football after the disastrous World Cup campaign under Fabio Capello.

England's Under 19 squad will be gunning for glory in the European Championships in France, beginning this Sunday with their first group stage game of the tournament against their Austrian counterparts in the Stade du Hazé, Flers (Normandy).

The UEFA European Under-19 Championship tournament consists of eight teams.
The group stage will be cut-throat - with Austria, England, France and the Netherlands drawn in Group A, and Croatia, Spain, Italy and Portugal in Group B, with the top two progressing to the semi-finals. The winners of those ties contest the final.

In the last eight runnings of this competition (since it became the Under-19's in 2002) it has paid to support the European big guns, the countries who place such pride is their youth systems. Spain have won the tournament four times, France and Italy once apiece, and with a nod to the World Cup just gone, Germany won it two years ago with a team fine tuned in the same youth system which provided the likes of Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller.

Ukraine may have looked like shock winners last time (they beat England in the final), but the system put in place by Valeri Lobanovsky all those years ago is still churning out terrific players, especially now that the country's FA is focusing on that area with a nod to Euro 2012.

But which of England manager Noel Blake's squad are good enough to make the full step to full international recognition?

The England Under-19 squad for the European Championships to be held between the 18th and the 30th July 2010 in Normandy, France is as follows:

Declan Rudd (Norwich City), James Severn (Derby County), Nathan Baker (Aston Villa), Stephen Caulker (Tottenham), Matthew Briggs (Fulham), Reece Brown (Manchester United), Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace, right), Thomas Cruise (Arsenal), Josh Thompson (Celtic); John Bostock, Dean Parrett, Andros Townsend (all Tottenham), Matthew James (Manchester United), Jacob Mellis (Chelsea), Matthew Phillips (Wycombe); Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa), Ryan Donaldson (Newcastle United), Frank Nouble (West Ham).

England have improved in leaps and bounds at this level, and won the Euro Under-17s earlier in the year. However I think that the draw has not done them any favours, and that they'll find at least two of the other sides in their group too good. The Netherlands look rock solid to make it through as group winners, and local support may benefit the French, with Austria also strong contenders.
I'll take Spain to get it right in Group B, and Croatia to more than likely follow them through.

If your having a bet be warned - the top teams are so tightly matched that any of them could win it, which should make for a superb spectacle.

I am going to have a small wager on the Netherlands to go one step further than their senior team did this month, and lift the trophy on the 30th July. My outside tip for glory would lie with the Croatians.

European U19 Championships 2010 - England's Group A fixtures/results/scorers:

Sun 18st July - England U19's 3-2 Austria U19's

England goalscorers: Nouble (13') & (29'), Cruise (53')
England team: Rudd, Briggs (Clyne 54'), James (C), Caulker (Thompson 86'), Baker, Parrett, Delfouneso, Nouble, Bostock (Mellis 77'), Cruise, Brown.
Substitutes not used: Nicholls (GK), Phillips, Noble, Donaldson.

Wed 21st July - England U19's 0-1 The Netherlands U19's

England team: Rudd, Clyne, James (C), Caulker, Baker, Mellis (Donaldson 83'), Parrett, Delfouneso, Nouble, Brown, Phillips (Noble 72').
Substitutes not used: Nicholls (GK), Briggs, Bostock, Cruise, Thompson.

Sat 24th July - England U19's 1-1 France U19's

England goalscorer: Phillips 90'+ 3'
England team: Rudd, Clyne, James (C), Caulker, Mellis (Bostock 78'), Parrett (Noble 74'), Delfouneso, Nouble, Cruise, Thompson, Donaldson (Phillips 76').
Substitutes not used: Nicholls (GK), Briggs, Baker, Brown.

Group A

1 France 7 pts
2 England 4 pts
3 Austria 3 pts
4 Netherlands 3pts

France and England qualify for the semi-finals.

Wed 27th July: Semi-Final: Spain U19's 3-1 England U19's

England goalscorer: Bostock 37'
England team: Rudd, Clyne, James (C), Caulker, Baker (Bostock 18'), Mellis (Noble 59'), Delfouneso, Nouble, Cruise, Thompson, Donaldson (Phillips 71').
Substitutes not used: Nicholls (GK), Brown, Malone.

All the games can be seen on Eurosport.

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