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Under-19 semi-finals: France v Spain preview

Old rivals at this level, France and Spain have met in three previous semi-finals, with Spain winning two – although it is the French who have had the better of things overall.

Action from the 2013 semi-final, when France beat Spain 2-1 after extra time
Action from the 2013 semi-final, when France beat Spain 2-1 after extra time ©Sportsfile

France v Spain (20.45CET, Katerini Municipal Stadium, Katerini)
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• This will be the teams' eighth competitive U19 meeting, and Spain are yet to win in normal time or 120 minutes – although they have won two of the countries' three semi-final encounters on penalties (see below). Overall it is four victories for France – including in the most recent fixture, a 2-1 success in the 2013 semi-finals – and three draws.

• France also overcame Spain in the 2010 U19 final, recovering from Rodrigo's 18th-minute opener in Caen thanks to second-half strikes from Gilles Sunu (49) and Alexandre Lacazette (85).

• France were 1-0 winners in the 2009 group stage and 2004/05 elite round, the sides also sharing a goalless draw in the 2002/03 elite round. All three results ended Spain's interest in that season's competition.

Highlights: France 2-0 Greece

• Spain were 5-1 victors against France in a Veria friendly on 15 November 2014, Marco Asensio (16 20) and Adrián Marín (26 50) each scoring twice and Matías Nahuel (31) also on target. France's reply came from subsitute Maxime Do Couto Teixeira (86).

• The teams at the Veria Municipal Stadium were:
Spain: Siviera, Sergio López, Adrián Marín (Aaron 65), Meré, Ramiro Guerra (Merino 65), Concha (Pozo 65), Nahuel (Antonio Marin 71), Ceballo (Rivera 71), Vallejo (Ozerinjauregui 71), Mayoral, Asensio (Buendía 59).
France: Grange, Fulgini, Mombela (Diakhaby 70), Diallo, Hernandez, Kemen (Blin 70), Kilic (D'Arpino 55), Nnomo (Lecygne 70), Cornet (Do Couto Teixeira 80), Lea Siliki (Niakhate 80), Guirassy (Boga 55).

• Gnaly Cornet hit France's second goal in a 3-2 success over Spain in the 2013 European U17 Championship elite round. Angelo Fulgini, Nicolas Senzemba, Abdou Diallo, Samed Kilic, Kingsley Coman, Neal Maupay and Alexis Blin all started for Patrick Gonfalone's France, with Moussa Dembele coming off the bench and Florian Escales an unused substitute. Antonio Marin is Spain's sole survivor.

U19 semi-final pedigree
France: W3 L3
2013: Spain 1-2 France (aet)
2012: Spain 3-3 France (aet; Spain win 4-2 on penalties)
2010: France 2-1 Croatia
2009: England 3-1 France (aet)
2007: Spain 0-0 France (aet; Spain win 4-2 on penalties)
2005: France 3-2 Germany

Spain: W6 L1*
2013: Spain 1-2 France (aet)
2012: Spain 3-3 France (aet; Spain win 4-2 on penalties)
2011: Spain 5-0 Republic of Ireland
2010: Spain 3-1 England
2007: Spain 0-0 France (aet; Spain win 4-2 on penalties)
2006: Spain 5-0 Austria
2004: Spain 2-2 Ukraine (aet; Spain win 4-1 on penalties)
*No semi-finals when Spain won 2002 tournament

Patrick Gonfalone, coach
Whoever we play, we knew it was going to be really tough. It's a really high level here; all the teams are difficult to play, everyone has their own qualities. Every team causes problems and they're all difficult opponents.

Highlights: Spain 1-1 Netherlands

Our philosophy and mentality will stay the same; we always look to play with pace, build attacks and create danger. What will change is the style in which we defend – you wouldn't defend the same way against Spain and Russia. Every team has their own qualities in attack and you must be prepared for them with your defence – but in attack, nothing changes.

Luis de la Fuente, coach
France are very tough rivals and it will be an even game. We are very motivated, focused and determined to attack France's weak points. We beat them 5-1 last November and the semi-final will be completely different, but that victory indicates the path we need to follow and some key points for us. Most of all I would like us to use our attributes: take possession and control of proceedings and then make the most of our chances.

I'm convinced our physical condition is improving with every match. We are not at 100% but we are at a very high level and able to negotiate the encounter against France, who are very strong physically.

Tournament so far
France (Group A winners)
Austria 0-1 France
Ukraine 1-3 France
France 2-0 Greece

Spain (Group B runners-up)
Germany 0-3 Spain
Spain 1-3 Russia
Spain 1-1 Netherlands

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