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Iceland v France: Under-21 EURO background, form guide, previous meetings

Iceland and France wrap up their Group C campaigns at Győr's Gyirmóti Stadion with history pointing to another French success.

France line up in qualifying
France line up in qualifying AFP via Getty Images

Iceland and France wrap up their Group C campaigns at Győr's Gyirmóti Stadion with history pointing to another French success.

• France responded to their 1-0 opening defeat against Denmark with a 2-0 victory against Russia thanks to first-half penalties from Odsonne Édouard and Jonathan Ikoné, taking them level with their opponents on three points – three behind Denmark. France go through if they beat Iceland, or if both Matchday 3 games are drawn. France also go through if they lose by a one-goal margin other than 1-0 or 2-1 and Russia also lose. France finish as group winners if they beat Iceland and Russia beat Denmark by a margin of one or two goals.

• Iceland have lost to both Russia (1-4) and Denmark (0-2) and can only go through if they beat France by four goals or more, and Russia lose.

Highlights: Iceland 0-2 Denmark (2 mins)
Highlights: Iceland 0-2 Denmark (2 mins)

Previous meetings
• Iceland have won only one of their eight competitive meetings against France, although that sole victory came in their last home fixture – a 3-2 success in Kópavogur in September 2015 in what was France's first qualifier for the 2017 tournament. Oliver Sigurjónsson's two goals, including an 85th-minute penalty winner, proved decisive, with Hjörtur Hermannsson (48) also on target for the home side to secure victory despite goals from Aymeric Laporte (39) and Grejohn Kyei (90).

• Corentin Tolisso's double gave France three points in Caen on 6 September 2016 but his side were nevertheless eliminated as Group 3 runners-up behind North Macedonia. Les Bleuets finished on 20 points, one behind North Macedonia and two ahead of third-placed Iceland.

• France and Iceland had been paired together in qualifying for the 2015 finals, their two games producing a 4-3 French win in Reyjavík and a 1-1 draw in Auxerre. France finished top of Group 10 on 22 points, six ahead of second-placed Iceland; both sides advanced to the play-offs where France lost 4-3 on aggregate to Sweden (2-0 h, 1-4 a) and Iceland were beaten on away goals by Denmark (0-0 a, 1-1 h).

• France had also lost in the play-offs the first time they were paired with Iceland, in qualifying for the 2000 tournament. They finished top of Group 4 on 19 points, six coming from 2-0 wins both away and home against Iceland, but lost 3-2 on aggregate to Italy in the play-off; Iceland finished fourth in their qualifying section on six points.

• Wins against Iceland in Reykjavík (1-0) and Rouen (2-1) – Bixente Lizarazu scoring the winner in the latter fixture – were not enough for France to qualify for the 1992 finals; they finished a distant second to Czechoslovakia in their qualifying section.

• The sides' sole friendly meeting was a 2-1 France win in Brive on 21 August 2002, Bernard Mendy scoring the decisive goal.

Highlights: Russia 0-2 France (2 mins)
Highlights: Russia 0-2 France (2 mins)

Form guide
Iceland
• Iceland are making only their second appearance in the final tournament having featured in the 2011 finals in Denmark. After 2-0 defeats by both Belarus and Switzerland, goals from Kolbeinn Sigthórsson, Birkir Bjarnason – both key members of the squad that reached the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-finals – and Hjörtur Logi Valgardsson, who also went on to represent Iceland at senior level, secured a 3-1 closing win against the hosts in Aalborg.

• That left Eyjólfur Sverrisson's Iceland third in Group A on three points, level with Belarus – who claimed second place, and a semi-final spot, on three-way head-to-head – and Denmark with Switzerland first on nine points.

• In qualifying for the 2021 finals, a team coached by Arnar Thór Vidarsson – who was named head coach of the senior side on 22 December 2020 – claimed second place in Group 1 on 21 points, winning seven of their ten games with two of their three defeats coming against section winners Italy (25 points). Iceland were credited with victories in four of their last five matches, including the last two.

Highlights: France 0-1 Denmark (2 mins)
Highlights: France 0-1 Denmark (2 mins)

France
• Champions in 1988, France finished third in 1996 and fourth two years earlier, and were semi-finalists in 2019. They also reached 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. The Matchday 1 loss against Denmark was therefore their first group stage defeat.

• 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).

• France have lost only four of their last 35 European U21 Championship matches (W27 D4).

Links and trivia
• At all levels, France have won 21 of their 29 competitive matches against Iceland (D7). Iceland's only success was that 3-2 U21 qualifying victory on 5 September 2015.

• French clubs have been victorious in nine of their 11 meetings against Icelandic sides. The exception was two home wins by Valur, 2-1 against Nantes in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup first round first leg and 1-0 against Monaco at the same stage of the 1988/89 European Cup. The Ligue 1 side prevailed on aggregate on each occasion, however, Nantes winning their second leg 3-0 and Monaco turning round the tie with a 2-0 home success.