Two sides whose most recent finals campaigns ended in the semi-finals meet in the opening round of Group A games.
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Two sides whose most recent UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals campaigns ended in the semi-finals meet in the opening round of Group A games as Romania face the Netherlands at the Bozsik Aréna in Budapest.
• While Romania reached the last four in Italy two years ago, the Dutch have not featured in the final tournament since 2013, when they were beaten at the same stage.
• This is only the sides' fourth competitive meeting at Under-21 level, and a first in almost 16 years. They were last paired together in qualifying for the 2006 finals, when each recorded a 2-0 home win. A goal in each half from Andrei Prepeliţă (21 pen) and Costin Curelea (81) earned Romania a 2-0 victory in Urziceni on 25 March 2005. The Dutch turned the tables in Rotterdam on 3 June the same year, Nicky Hofs (87) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (90+4) striking in the final stages to secure a win by the same scoreline.
• That loss in Romania proved to be the Netherlands' only qualifying defeat. They went on to finish first in Group 1 on 23 points and ultimately lifted the trophy in Portugal; Romania, third behind the Czech Republic on 19 points, failed to make the finals.
• The Netherlands were victorious in their 1998 quarter-final against Romania in Bucharest, goals from Nordin Wooter (16) and John de Jong (79) overturning Cosmin Contra's seventh-minute opener for the tournament hosts.
• The Dutch finished in fourth place at those 1998 finals; Romania were eighth having lost all three matches.
• This is Romania's third appearance at the U21 EURO finals, and the first time they have qualified for successive tournaments.
• In 2019, a team coached by Mirel Rădoi progressed unbeaten through the qualifying phase (W7 D3) and then finished first in Group C at the final tournament, winning the section ahead of France – with whom they finished level on seven points – England and Croatia.
• Germany proved too strong in the semi-finals, however, scoring two late goals to win 4-2 – Romania's first competitive U21 defeat in 14 games (W9 D4), since a 2-0 qualifying loss in Bulgaria in October 2016.
• That was Romania's first appearance in the finals since they lost to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the 1998 tournament, which Romania hosted. They lost all three games at those 1998 finals, subsequently going down to Germany (0-1 aet) and Russia (1-2) to finish in eighth place.
• This time round, Adrian Mutu – who replaced Rădoi in January 2020 – guided Romania to the finals as the fifth best second-placed side overall, his team having finished as runners-up to Denmark in Group 8 (W6 D2 L2). Romania collected 20 points to end six behind the Danes but four ahead of third-placed Ukraine.
• The Dutch have missed out on the last three U21 EURO final tournaments; this is their first appearance since losing to Italy in the 2013 semi-finals.
• Champions in Portugal in 2006 and again on home soil 12 months later, this is the Netherlands' sixth appearance in an eight or 12-team final tournament. They also reached the two-legged semi-finals in 1988.
• In the qualifying campaign for the 2019 finals, a team coached by Erwin van de Looi – who has been in charge since May 2018 – finished second behind England in their section.
• This time round, Van de Looi oversaw a near immaculate qualifying campaign, the Dutch finishing as top scorers overall with 46 goals – nine more than any other side – and winning nine of their ten fixtures. A 2-1 defeat by Portugal in their final encounter was not enough to prevent them finishing first in Group 7, above their opponents on head-to-head record.
Links and trivia
• Romania coach Mutu captained the senior side in a 0-0 draw against the Netherlands in the UEFA EURO 2008 preliminaries on 24 March. The striker also featured in a 2-0 Dutch win in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying on 4 June 2005, Romania's 1-0 victory on 13 October 2007 and a 2-0 loss at UEFA EURO 2008 itself.
• Mutu also made two appearances, both as a substitute, against the Netherlands in 2014 World Cup qualifying, a 4-1 Romania defeat on 16 October 2012 and a 4-0 loss on 26 March 2013 – his final appearance for Romania. His overall record against the Netherlands was therefore W1 D1 L5.
• Have played in the Netherlands:
Andrei Rațiu (ADO Den Haag loan 2020–)
Tudor Băluță (ADO Den Haag loan 2020)