Under-21 play-offs ... all you need to know

With the seven Under-21 play-offs commencing this week, UEFA.com looks at the fixtures and considers the 14 contenders' pedigrees and campaigns so far.

England amassed the most qualifying round points, 28, of the 14 play-off contenders
England amassed the most qualifying round points, 28, of the 14 play-off contenders ©Getty Images

Denmark v Iceland
Friday 10 October (16.00), Aalborg
Tuesday 14 October (17.15), Reykjavik

Play-off record*
Denmark: W1 L3
Iceland: W1 L0
*ties, not individual matches

Qualifying campaign
Denmark: W8 D2 L0 F37 A9 (Group 2 winners)
Iceland: W7 D1 L2 F20 A11 (Group 10 runners-up)

• Denmark coach Jess Thorup has gone from one success to another since leaving Superliga club Esbjerg fB to replace Morten Wieghorst as U21 coach. Indeed in qualifying his team scored more goals than any other nation.

• Former Icelandic international and Hertha BSC Berlin captain Eyjólfur Sverrisson took charge in 2009 and led Iceland to their first U21 finals in 2011, via a play-off against Scotland. However, Iceland finished bottom of their qualifying group for the 2013 event.

England v Croatia
Friday 10 October (18.45), Wolverhampton
Tuesday 14 October (18.00), Vinkovci

Play-off record
England: W6 L1
Croatia: W2 L3

Qualifying campaign
England: W9 D1 L0 F31 A2 (Group 1 winners)
Croatia: W6 D1 L1 F20 A5 (Group 5 winners)

• Gareth Southgate was named England manager after Stuart Pearce's six-year reign came to a close following the Young Lions' disappointing showing at the 2013 finals; England lost all three of their games in Israel.

• Croatia have been involved in ten previous U21 qualifying campaigns but have reached the finals only twice, most recently in Germany in 2004.

France v Sweden
Friday 10 October (18.45), Le Mans
Tuesday 14 October (20.00), Halmstad

Play-off record
France: W2 L5
Sweden: W1 L4

Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol
Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol©AFP/Getty Images

Qualifying campaign
France: W7 D1 L0 F28 A7 (Group 10 winners)
Sweden: W5 D1 L2 F20 A14 (Group 7 winners)

• France have not made it to a U21 final tournament since 2006 when they got to the last four. Earlier this year, former senior international stalwart Willy Sagnol stepped down as U21 coach to take over at FC Girondins de Bordeaux.

• On the verge of breaking into Sweden's senior squad, John Guidetti suffered a viral infection in April 2012. He was forced to wait until November 2013 for his comeback, subsequently helping Sweden to top their section with four goals in as many games.

Netherlands v Portugal
Thursday 9 October (18.30), Alkmaar
Tuesday 14 October (18.00), Pacos de Ferreira

Play-off record
Netherlands: W3 L2
Portugal: W4 L1

Qualifying campaign
Netherlands: W5 D1 L2 F22 A6 (Group 3 runners-up)
Portugal: W8 D0 L0 F22 A6 (Group 8 winners)

• The Jong Oranje are one of four nations – along with England, Italy and Spain – to have won back-to-back U21 titles. They lifted the trophy in 2006 and 2007.

• Rui Jorge's Portugal were eliminated at the qualifying round stage during the 2011–13 campaign, but the former CF Os Belensenses coach kept his job and repaid the faith shown by guiding the U21s into the play-offs for the first time since 2006.

Serbia v Spain
Friday 10 October (17.00CET), Jagodina
Tuesday 14 October (18.00CET), Cadiz

Play-off record
Serbia: W4 L1
Spain: W4 L3

Qualifying campaign
Spain: W7 D1 L0 F24 A6 (Group 4 winners)
Serbia: W5 D1 L2 F18 A10 (Group 9 runners-up)

• U21 coach Radovan Ćurčić was in interim charge of the senior side from October 2011 to May 2012, winning one, drawing one and losing two of his four friendlies at the helm.

• Like the senior team, Spain's U21s have won their last two tournaments. Should they progress, they will be seeking to match Italy's record of five titles at this level, while also equalling the Azzurrini's sequence of three consecutive tournament triumphs.

Koke looks back on Spain's winning summer of 2013
Koke looks back on Spain's winning summer of 2013

Slovakia v Italy
Friday 10 October (17.00), Zlate Moravce
Tuesday 14 October (16.00), Reggio Emilia

Play-off record
Slovakia: W1 L1
Italy: W7 L1

Qualifying campaign
Slovakia: W5 D2 L1 F19 A7 (Group 3 winners)
Italy: W6 D0 L2 F19 A7 (Group 9 winners)
 
• Slovakia have only once participated in a U21 final tournament, on home soil 14 years ago. They lost to a Spain outfit including Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernández in the third-place play-off.

• Having replaced Devis Mangia after Italy were beaten by Spain in the 2013 U21 championship final, Luigi Di Biagio ensured his troops finished top of Group 9 despite the Azzurrini kicking off with a 3-1 home reverse to Belgium.

Ukraine v Germany
Friday 10 October (17.30), Cherkassy
Tuesday 14 October (18.00), Essen

Play-off record
Ukraine: W2 L1
Germany: W4 D1

Qualifying campaign
Ukraine: W6 D1 L1 F20 A8 (Group 5 runners-up)
Germany: W6 D2 L0 F25 A5 (Group 6 winners)

Watch Germany's 2009 win
Watch Germany's 2009 win

• Ukraine have lost all three of their previous home games in the play-offs, against Switzerland in 2001, Belgium in 2005 and the Netherlands in 2010.

• While Germany appeared to have moved away from selecting players for the U21 squad who had been capped at senior level, for these play-offs Max Meyer, Marc-André ter Stegen, Christian Günter, Maximilian Arnold and Kevin Volland have been called up.

All times CET

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