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TEL AVIV, Israel -- Spain, England and Germany will be among the favourites when the Under 21 European Championship kicks off Wednesday against the backdrop of a campaign to protest Israels selection as host. Jorginho Jersey . On Wednesday, watch host Israel take on Norway on TSN2 at 11:45am et/8:45am pt, followed by England facing Italy on TSN at 2:15pm et/11:15am pt. The biannual tournament is among the major football tournaments of the summer -- and one of the most significant sporting events Israel has staged in its 65-year history. The choice of host, however, did not come without controversy. Pro-Palestinian activists waged a campaign against Israels selection that failed to sway UEFA president Michel Platini. "UEFA is an apolitical organization and your association earned the right to host this competition through a fair, democratic vote," Platini wrote to Israel Football Association Chairman Avi Luzon. "I am sure that it will be a beautiful celebration of football that, once again, will bring people together." Palestinian Football Association chairman Jibril Rajoub condemned the decision, saying Israel should not be allowed to host such a tournament while it hinders the free movement of Palestinian footballers between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas militants. The Palestinian team is split between the two territories, which are on different sides of Israel. Israel cited security concerns for hindering travel between the two entities. "We hope that the participants understand that there is an occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and we hope they will refrain from participating in any activity in these territories whether sport, social or tourism," Rajoub said. Luzon said he would try to help resolve the issue of the movement of the Palestinian athletes, but added that he hopes football and politics could stay separate. "We will continue to guard Israeli football and football in general from all political influence," he said. "I am pleased that this problem is behind us and we will continue to strive for the advancement of football." The English, who were beaten by Germany in the final when the tournament was held in Sweden four years ago, start their Group A campaign on Wednesday with a tough match against Italy in Tel Aviv. Israel, also in Group A, will kick off the eight-team tournament against Norway earlier in the day in front of an expected capacity crowd of13,800 in the newly built Netanya Stadium. The Israelis will be hoping to improve on their only other showing in the tournament six years ago when they lost all three group games. Group B features defending champion Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Russia. Considering the recent dominance by the Spanish of the European Championship and World Cup at senior level, its no surprise that their junior players are odds on to repeat their success from two years ago in Denmark. Coach Julen Lopetegui has selected an experienced squad led by Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara and Malaga playmaker Isco are the outfield stars and will be hoping to shine, starting with their first game against Russia in Jerusalem on Thursday. All three were selected instead of travelling to Brazil for the Confederations Cup despite having already played for the senior national team, indicating how seriously Spain is taking the tournament "We are going into the tournament looking to be as much of a team as we possibly can be," Lopetegui said. "We have full confidence in this group of players, they fill us with hope. Having said that, we know that we will have to do our talking on the pitch." Spain will be vying for supremacy in Group B with Germany, which is bringing a less experienced group of players to Israel. Only two members of the 23-man squad play outside of Germany, with Tottenham midfielder Lewis Holtby one of the more prominent names. The England squad, which is again coached by former England hard man Stuart Pearce, includes new United striker Wilfred Zaha after his starring role for Crystal Palace in its Championship playoff success last week. Zaha injured an ankle during the playoff final against Watford at Wembley Stadium but is still expected to play. A strong England group also features Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson and Blackpool winger Tom Ince. "I think weve played good football, scored good goals and defended really well at the same time," said Henderson, Englands captain. "If we can take that into the summer then weve got a really good chance." Gary Cahill Jersey . Toronto has dropped games to Indiana and Miami since a five-game winning streak and closed out a three-game road trip at 1-2. Willy Caballero Jersey . "No difference at all," chirped U.S. roommate and linemate James van Riemsdyk. "Its still the same cranky Phil. http://www.chelseafcproshop.com/Kids-Victor-Moses-Jersey/ . "It doesnt get any better than that," Giambi said. "Im speechless." The Indians are roaring toward October. Giambi belted a two-run, pinch-hit homer with two outs in the ninth inning to give Cleveland a shocking 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night, keeping the Indians up with the lead pack in the AL wild-card race. Test tours outside Asia have been quite rare for Pakistan lately, and four-Test series even rarer, which is why the next five weeks will be huge for their players and their fans. The last time Pakistan played a four-Test series was also in England, in 2010, on a tour that was fraught with controversy. Since then, they have largely been Asia-bound in Tests.Since June 2011, Pakistan have played 37 Tests, of which 31 have been in Asia - 19 in the UAE, eight in Sri Lanka and four in Bangladesh. Of the remaining six Tests, three have been in Zimbabwe and three in South Africa. And while Pakistans results in Asia have been very encouraging - 16 wins and seven defeats - they lost all three on the tour to South Africa in 2013.Pakistans lopsided Test schedule is a damning reflection of uneven distribution of matches over the last few years. Since June 2011, they have played three Tests outside Asia (excluding games in Zimbabwe), compared to 24 by India and 17 by Sri Lanka in the same period. (Even after this four-Test series in England, Pakistans tally will only go up to seven, less than a third of Indias number.) This lack of exposure to overseas conditions has denied their current players the opportunities to develop in different conditions, and has therefore hurt the team as well. Azhar Ali, for instance, has been playing Test cricket for six years now, but hasnt yet played a Test in Australia, and only three in South Africa.When the Tests do get underway, Pakistan will hope that their batsmen do a bit better than they have on their last few overseas series. Admittedly, it is difficult for batsmen to adjust to conditions they arent accustomed to - especially when the tours are so infrequent - but Pakistans batsmen will at least have the benefit of playing in the second half of the English season, when less rain is expected and conditions are likely to be better for batting.Among the countries with conditions that are most unlike those in Asia, Pakistan have struggled the most in Australia, England and South Africa over the last 15 years. In New Zealand they have done relatively well, winning two of their last three series, and drawing the other. However, in Australia, England and South Africa, Pakistan have struggled in the last decade and a half, winning only four Tests and losing 21. They have only drawn one Test out of 26 in these countries. In nine series, they have lost seeven, and drawn two - against England in 2001 (1-1), and against Australia in England in 2010 (1-1). Olivier Giroud Jersey. They have lost three times to Australia, and twice each to England and South Africa. In most of those series, the batting has been Pakistans biggest problem: only twice in those nine series has their batting average gone beyond 26, while they have averaged below 25 six times. The bowling has disappointed too at times, but for Pakistan that has always been their stronger suit.Since 2000, Pakistan have played 86 Tests in Asia and lost only 22, but in Australia, England and South Africa they have lost 21 out of 26. The batting average drops by 38%, from 38.95 to 24.14, while the bowling average is only slightly poorer. The batsmen have also scored 1.5 hundreds per Test in Asia during this period, compared to less than one every two Tests in these three countries. The deterioration in batting quality will worry Pakistans think-tank. In the 1980s and 1990s, armed with batsmen like Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistan did better in overseas conditions. They obviously didnt play in South Africa in the 1980s, but when West Indies are included instead, Pakistans batting average remains exactly the same - 32.08. Among the batsmen in their current squad, Younis Khan and Azhar are the only batsmen to have played more than one Test innings in England. Younis has been superb, averaging 52.22 from nine innings, with four 50-plus scores, but Azhar averages 26.45, with two half-centuries from 12 innings. Misbah-ul-Haq hasnt yet played a Test match in England.Adding all Tests played in Australia and South Africa to the mix, Younis average drops to 40.60, but it is still the best among the batsmen in Pakistans current squad. Asad Shafiq averaged 33.16 in the one series he played in South Africa, but Azhar and Misbah average under 25 in these countries. Against the likes of Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, they have will to do much better than that if Pakistan are to stand a chance over the next five weeks. If they do put the runs on the board, then given that the bowling attack includes Mohammad Amir and Yasir Shah, Pakistan could well give England a far tougher test than Sri Lanka did in the first half of the summer. 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