Russia and France have not met in a competitive match since 1999, when David Trezeguet was on the scoresheet for Les Bleuets.
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Russia and France, who have not met in an Under-21 match for more than ten years, belatedly renew acquaintance in the second round of Group C games.
• This fixture at the Haladás Stadion in Szombathely is also the teams' first UEFA European Under-21 Championship meeting in the 21st century, with some notable names on the scoresheet in past matches between the countries.
• The sides' last three matches have all been friendlies, Russia recording two wins and a draw in those fixtures. The most recent, in Le Mans on 16 November 2010, ended in a 1-0 away win, Russia's Alan Gatagov scoring the only goal from long range three minutes past the hour.
• That was Russia's second successive win in France, Aleksandr Kerzhakov having settled a Caen friendly 3-2 in the visitors' favour on 14 August 2001.
• France's last win against Russia came in the teams' most recent competitive match, a 2-0 victory in Beauvais on 5 June 1999; David Trezeguet scored the opening goal. With Russia having earlier won 2-1 in Moscow, they finished second to France in Group 4, but while France qualified automatically for the finals, Russia lost 4-1 on aggregate to Slovakia in the play-offs (0-1 h, 1-3 a).
• France beat Russia 2-0 in Montpellier thanks to goals from Francis Llacer (23) and Nicolas Ouédec (82) in the first leg of the 1994 quarter-finals, Christophe Dugarry scoring the only goal of the Moscow return. Les Bleuets went on to finish fourth after losing on penalties to Italy in the semi-finals – Claude Makélélé the only player to miss, with Zinédine Zidane converting his spot kick – and 2-1 to Spain in the third-place play-off. Both matches were on home soil in Nîmes.
• Odsonne Édouard scored the only goal as France beat Russia in the 2015 European U17 Championship group stage; Faitout Maouassa, Dayot Upamecano, Jonathan Ikoné, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde and substitute Jean-Victor Makengo were also in the France line-up while Aleksandr Maksimenko, Nikita Kalugin, Aleksei Tataev, Aleksandr Lomovitski and substitute Mikhail Lysov all represented Russia.
• Champions as part of the Soviet Union in 1980 and 1990, this is only Russia's second finals appearance since they reached the quarter-finals in 1998, a tournament in which they finished in seventh place.
• Russia's most recent U21 EURO, in 2013, ended in group stage elimination; a side coached by Nikolai Pisarev lost to Spain (0-1), Netherlands (1-5) and Germany (1-2) to finish bottom of Group B, Russia's only goals coming from future senior internationals Denis Cheryshev and Alan Dzagoev.
• Russia had therefore lost five of their six games at the U21 final tournament before 2021, the exception a 2-1 victory against hosts Romania in Bucharest in the seventh-place play-off in 1998.
• This time round, a team coached by Mikhail Galaktionov – who has been in charge since 2018 – finished first in qualifying Group 5 on 23 points, three ahead of second-placed Poland. Russia won seven of their ten fixtures, losing only to Poland in their eighth game (0-1 a) and scoring four goals in each of their last two, against Estonia (4-0 h) and Latvia (4-1 a).
• Champions in 1988, France finished third in 1996 and fourth two years earlier, also reaching the quarter-finals in 1982, 1984 and 1986.
• France are in the finals for the second successive edition, and are making their fourth appearance overall in an eight or 12-team finals. They have never previously failed to qualify from their group. In 2019, they featured at a U21 EURO for the first time in 13 years; they finished as runners-up in 2002, losing the final on penalties to the Czech Republic, and were beaten by the Netherlands, 3-2 after extra-time, in the last four in 2006.
• Two years ago in Italy, Sylvain Ripoll's team finished second in Group C on seven points, level with Romania but behind on head-to-head record. They beat England (2-1) and Croatia (1-0) before a goalless draw against Romania on Matchday 3; eventual champions Spain proved too strong in the semi-finals, coming from behind to run out 4-1 victors in Reggio Emilia.
• That draw against Romania was the first group game in the U21 finals France had failed to win; they recorded three victories in both 2002 and 2006 before their two successes in 2019.
• Ripoll, who has been in charge since 2017, guided Les Bleuets to these finals as winners of qualifying Group 2, his side picking up 27 points from their ten games to edge out fellow finalists Switzerland for first place after the teams had finished level. France's sole defeat was a 3-1 reverse to the Swiss, who they beat by the same scoreline in their final qualifier to claim first place on goal difference.
• Édouard's 11 goals in qualifying, which included penalties in four successive matches, made him the second top scorer overall, behind only Eddie Nketiah of England (13 goals).
• Before these finals France had lost only three of their previous 33 European U21 Championship matches (W26 D4).
Links and trivia
• A Magomed Suleymanov goal was not enough to prevent Krasnodar slipping to a 3-2 defeat at Jules Koundé's Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 4 November 2020, although the French defender was forced off by injury before half-time. Matvei Safonov and Daniil Utkin were also in the Russian team while Suleymanov and substitute Utkin also featured as Sevilla, with Koundé playing 90 minutes, won 2-1 in Russia on 24 November.
• Russia's Danil Krugovoi and Dan-Axel Zagadou of France were both late substitutes as the former's Zenit lost 2-1 at home to Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 8 December 2020.
• France's Adrien Truffert and Eduardo Camavinga played in both matches as Rennes drew 1-1 at home and lost 1-0 away against Krasnodar in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League group stage; Safonov, Utkin and Suleymanov featured for the Russian club.
• Koundé was in the Bordeaux side beaten 2-1 at Zenit away in the UEFA Europa League group stage on 25 October 2018.
• France's Ibrahima Konaté was a half-time substitute in Leipzig's 1-1 draw at Zenit in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg on 15 March 2018, a result that took the German club through 3-2 on aggregate.
• Upamecano has played four matches against Zenit with Leipzig, that 2017/18 UEFA Europa League tie (2-1 h, 1-1 a) and in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League group stage (2-1 h, 2-0 a).
• Reine-Adélaïde and Amine Gouiri, as a late substitute, featured in Lyon's 2-0 UEFA Champions League group stage loss at Zenit on 27 November 2019. The previous day, Moussa Diaby was in the Bayer Leverkusen side that beat Lokomotiv Moskva side 2-0 away.