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Holders Spain start defence against Russia

Published: Tuesday 4 June 2013, 16.00CET
Holders Spain kick off the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship with a game against a Russia side they have beaten in their three previous competitive meetings.
Holders Spain start defence against Russia
Spain lift the trophy in 2011 ©Getty Images

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Published: Tuesday 4 June 2013, 16.00CET

Holders Spain start defence against Russia

Holders Spain kick off the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship with a game against a Russia side they have beaten in their three previous competitive meetings.

Reigning champions Spain will aim to continue their dominance against Russia as the teams meet in the first round of Group B games at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.

How they qualified
• Spain won all but one of their ten qualifying fixtures, only dropping points in a goalless draw in Switzerland in their penultimate Group 5 fixture. Julen Lopetegui's side still won the section by five points, and a 5-0 home win against Denmark in the first leg of the play-offs effectively secured their finals place, confirmed by a 3-1 away victory in the return. Rodrigo contributed 11 of Spain's 35 goals to make him qualifying's top scorer.

• Russia won their first four Group 6 fixtures but then lost in Portugal before a goalless draw at home to Albania. A 4-1 win against Poland got things back on track and a home draw against Moldova secured first place two points ahead of the Portuguese. Fedor Smolov then scored in each half to bring the Czech Republic's 18-match unbeaten qualifying run to an end in the play-off first leg, and found the net again in the home return in Yekaterinburg before Yuri Kirillov's late goal secured a 2-2 draw on the night and a 4-2 aggregate success.

Previous meetings
• The teams have played in three previous UEFA European Under-21 Championship fixtures and Spain have won all of them, scoring five goals and conceding only one.

• Iván Pérez scored the only goal of their first competitive meeting, in the 1998 quarter-finals in Bucharest. Spain went on to defeat Norway 1-0 in the last four and Greece by the same scoreline in the final – Pérez again getting the only goal – to claim the second of their three U21 crowns.

• They were next brought together in qualifying for the 2009 finals, Spain winning in both Moscow and Palencia. First-half goals in the opener, from Xisco (8) and José Manuel Jurado (27), paved the way for an away victory despite Kirill Kombarov's reply soon after the break.

• Spain were made to wait longer in their home game when a Juan Mata penalty broke the deadlock in the 70th minute before Gerard Piqué added a second seven minutes later. Spain finished nine points clear of second-placed Russia and went on to the play-offs, where they knocked out Switzerland, but were unable to progress from the group stage at the Sweden finals.

• The sides have since crossed paths in a 2011 friendly in Soria, Spain, where Thiago Alcántara's 23rd-minute effort for the home team was cancelled out by Pavel Yakovlev 12 minutes from time.

• The teams at the Nuevo Estadio Los Pajaritos on 5 June 2011 were:
Spain: Mariño (Miño 46), Domínguez (Ruiz 65), Martínez (San José 76), Montoya (Azpilicueta 65), Vilà, Herrera (Parejo 46), Thiago (Pérez 69), Botía, Adrián (Nsue 65), Bojan (Jeffren 46), Capel (José Ángel 76).
Russia: Zabolotni, Tsallagov, Logashov, Chicherin, Burlak (Zhestokov 46), Zotov, Kirillov (Emelyanov 85), Gatagov (Shatov 69), Kokorin (Cheryshev 46), Smolov (Yakovlev 46), Kanunnikov (Grigoryev 46).

Match background
• Spain are in the finals for the third successive edition and will be seeking to repeat their feats of two years ago, when they claimed a third European U21 crown with a 2-0 defeat of Switzerland in Aarhus, Denmark. Spain had previously triumphed in 1986 and 1998, while they were runners-up in 1984 and 1996 and third in 1994 and 2000. They failed to make it beyond the group stage in 2009, however, on what was their first finals appearance in nine years.

• This is Russia's first finals appearance as an independent nation under the current format. They reached the quarter-finals in 1994 and 1998 and were knocked out in the play-offs in 2000, 2006 and 2007.

• As part of the Soviet Union, they were European champions in 1980 and 1990.

Team ties
• Coach Lopetegui was an unused substitute as Spain defeated the Soviet Union on penalties in Moscow in the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1985. Spain lost the final to Brazil.

• Russia coach Nikolai Pisarev made three Liga starts for CP Mérida in 1995/96.

• Denis Cheryshev made his senior debut for Real Madrid CF against CD Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey on 27 November 2012. His club-mates include Nacho and Álvaro Morata.

• Martín Montoya featured in FC Barcelona's 3-0 win away to Sergei Bryzgalov's FC Spartak Moskva in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 20 November 2012. Cristian Tello scored in Barça's 3-2 win in the reverse fixture at the Camp Nou.

• Isco scored twice as a Málaga CF team also including Ignacio Camacho beat FC Zenit St Petersburg – who had Maksim Kanunnikov on the bench – 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 18 September 2012.

• Camacho again featured while Isco and Kanunnikov were all unused substitutes when Zenit and Málaga drew 2-2 in St Petersburg on 21 November.

• Rodrigo played in SL Benfica's 2-1 away defeat and 2-0 home win against Spartak Moskva in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage. Bryzgalov played in the first game in Moscow.

• Iker Muniain scored both Athletic Club goals against FC Lokomotiv Moskva in a 2-2 draw in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League round of 32, the Spanish side winning on away goals. Taras Burlak and Maksim Belyaev featured for Lokomotiv in the tie while Aleksandr Filtsov was an unused replacement.

Spain news
• During the photo session most of the squad played pool or tried their hand on the games console, while Morata came out on top in the table tennis.

• Álvaro Vázquez and Muniain, who arrived in Israel with slight injury concerns, are fit to face Russia.

• Málaga CF forward Isco was at the forefront of most of the fun and games during the photo session, making wisecracks as the squad posed for their shots.

• Muniain, one of the five players that triumphed at the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, has a clear goal: "Our objective is to compete at the highest level throughout and to give ourselves to win in the final."

Russia news
• Russia arrived in Israel on 29 May and have been training in Bat Yam.

• Russia have lost forward Aleksandr Kokorin to injury and named FC Dinamo Moskva's Andrei Panyukov as his replacement.

• Alan Dzagoev and Smolov have been called up to the Russia senior squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Portugal on 7 June and will miss the opener against Spain before travelling to Israel.

• Russia played their only pre-tournament friendly on 3 June and beat third-tier Israeli side Maccabi Ironi 7-0 thanks to first-half strikes from Pavel Yakovlev and Cheryshev, two goals from Maksim Grigoryev and Sergei Petrov's second-half hat-trick.

• Defender Georgi Schennikov and striker Andrei Panyukov did not play in the friendly due to minor injuries, while third-choice goalkeeper Stanislav Kritsuk missed the game with flu. Schennikov and Kritsuk joined the main group in Tuesday's evening training session while Panyukov was present but trained on his own.

Last updated: 04/06/13 19.40CET