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England Under-21s to face Italy in Euro opener

13:34 18 December 2012

England Under-21s will face Italy in the opening match of next summer’s European Championship finals.

Stuart Pearce’s side have been grouped with the Italians, Norway and host nation Israel in the eight-team tournament.

The Azzurri, coached by Devis Mangia, will be the first test in Group A as England’s tournament begins at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv on June 5.

Pearce’s Young Lions meet Norway at the Ha Moshava Stadium in Petach Tikva three days later before facing Israel at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium on June 11.

The last three champions of the competition, Spain, Germany and Holland, join Russia in Group B.

The top two teams from each group progress to the semi-finals where they will bid to reach the final at the Teddy Stadium on June 18.

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