Noel Blake, England’s U19’s Head Coach admits that the Young Lions will have quite a task on their hands when they face Spain later today in the European Championship semi-final.
England made the last four after Wycombe Wanderers youngster Matt Phillips grabbed a dramatic late equaliser against France on Saturday.
That draw saw England finish as runners-up in Group A after a win draw and defeat meaning that they now face the Iberians who cruised through Group B with three wins from three.
However, Blake feels that England can draw on their experiences from last year’s competition and get a result if they perform to the standards they are capable of.
“We look forward to it with confidence, it’s a big game for the chaps but we’re looking forward to it,” he said.
“Spain are a very good side, make no bones about that. One of their boys has just been sold by Santander to Real Madrid for a lot of money. We know it’s a difficult task but it’s one we look forward to as staff and a group of players.”
“I think the biggest thing for me personally is if we under-perform – I just want us to go out and perform and from there, you will see what happens.”
“Sometimes you can perform well, as we did in the second half against Holland, and not get your just-rewards but without performances it’s very rare that you get anything at international level whether that’s at youth level or senior level.”
“I’ve watched enough football to understand that if you don’t perform then you stand little chance of getting something.”
“As I said before the start of the tournament, performance is critical and when we perform to the level that we expect, we have been okay.”
“The level of performance has got better as we’ve gone on and that’s tournament football. You can’t peak too early and we’ve got gradually better and stronger in all facets of the game and that’s really pleased me.”
“We have experienced being in a Final last year and some of the lads here were involved in that. We didn’t come here to make the numbers up, we came with some objectives and we’ve achieved one of those (qualifying for the U20 World Cup) so we’ve got one more remaining and nothing has changed in that sense.”
“We are consistently now a top four European nation in youth development football and in recent years we’ve been consistently getting to Finals and getting in the top four. So that is an achievement in itself.”
“When this campaign began, there were 52 nations involved and we’re in the last four, so that’s something to be celebrating.”