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England, France seek to join Croatia in last eight

France and England can seal their places in the knockout stage with wins on Sunday, when the latter's manager, John Peacock, will take charge of his 100th UEFA game.

England got the better of Italy in their first game – another win on Sunday would send them through
England got the better of Italy in their first game – another win on Sunday would send them through ©Sportsfile


Group C

Russia v France (15.00CET, Sliven)
• Russia were in the ascendancy in the early stages of their 2-2 draw against Greece on Thursday, with wingers Aleksandr Lomovitski and Mikhail Lysov particularly menacing. Their failure to make that pressure count left coach Mikhail Galaktionov rueful and it is something he hopes will not be repeated against matchday one's stand-out team. "We planned to use sharp, aggressive attacks and we had chances at the beginning which could have altered the course of the match," Galaktionov told UEFA.com. "We have to score at such times."

France celebrate a goal against Scotland
France celebrate a goal against Scotland©LAP.bg

• France blew Scotland away with four first-half goals in a 5-0 win in Stara Zagora. Though the result in the Greece-Russia match was favourable for Les Bleus, coach Jean-Claude Giuntini was keen to stress that "I don't think we are now favourites in the group", adding: "Russia are also difficult opponents and we must be totally focused on every game."

Greece v Scotland (16.00, Sozopol)
• Greece twice let slip a lead against Russia. Surprisingly upbeat afterwards, coach Vassilis Georgopoulos nonetheless said there would be a period of reflection to ensure something similar does not happen again. "We will look at our mistakes," he explained. "Of course, we respect Scotland, they're a very good team."

• Scotland manager Scot Gemmill – who could only name three outfield players on the bench against France – welcomes back Lewis Morrison, Francis Ross and Iain Wilson from suspension. Losing the first game is not a new experience for Gemmill: his side suffered the same fate 12 months ago yet went on to reach the semi-finals of the eight-team tournament. "We have been through this before and hopefully we will come back from this defeat as we did in Malta last year," he said.

Group D

Ireland's Connor Ronan in possession
Ireland's Connor Ronan in possession©Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland v Italy (15.00, Stara Zagora)
• To aid their preparations, Ireland opted to make the 180km journey to Stara Zagora from the team hotel in Pomorie on Saturday. Manager Thomas Mohan has Corey O'Keeffe available after the defender was banned for the 0-0 draw with the Netherlands. "Italy have very good players and they'll also be hard to break down," said Mohan. "They'll be looking to get a grip on the game in the middle of the park and we've got to match that. For spells against the Dutch we didn't keep possession well enough."

• The pressure is on Italy to get a result following their 1-0 loss to England, something not lost on coach Bruno Tedino. "For us and Ireland the game will be really important and basically the fate of both teams in the tournament will be decided by the outcome," he said. "We will have to make changes after that result and, most importantly of all, play consistently well for both halves."

Netherlands v England (19.00, Stara Zagora)
• Twelve months after meeting in the final of this competition, the teams go head-to-head again. England won on penalties that day, but more recently the Jong Oranje put seven without reply past John Peacock's side in a February friendly in Portugal. "That result means nothing," stressed coach Maarten Stekelenburg. "England had a different team with them and it was a game where all the balls fell for us, unlike on Thursday when we almost had to dribble it into the goal. England always have a good structure, John always organises his teams very well and they will always have individual quality."

• The fixture is Peacock's 100th UEFA match at the helm of England's U17 side. Peacock, who took charge in 2002, told the FA.com: "The next game is always the most important one. What's important on Sunday is that we try to qualify for the quarter-finals. That would be special. It's nice to reach the milestone, but I don't think I'll be reaching the 200 mark!"

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