Croatia and Switzerland have played four qualifying matches in the past decade, although Matchday 2 brings their first finals meeting.
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Croatia and Switzerland have been regular opponents in UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying in the past few years although their Matchday 2 meeting at the Stadion Bonifika in Koper is their first finals match.
• The Swiss have largely held the upper hand in those past contests, although Croatia boast the more recent finals experience ahead of this tournament.
• All four of the sides' previous games have come in European U21 Championship qualifying.
• Each recorded a 2-0 away win in the preliminaries for the 2015 finals. Marcelo Brozović (38, 76) scored both Croatia goals in Lugano on 14 October 2013; the following month, strikes from Michael Frey (19) and Darko Jevtic (47) gave Switzerland the points in Pula. Croatia went on to finish first in qualifying Group 5 on 19 points, two places and four points above eliminated Switzerland, but lost both legs of their play-off against England 2-1.
• Switzerland dominated their meetings with Croatia in the 2013 qualifying competition, winning the first of them 4-0 in Sion on 5 September 2011 thanks to goals from Steven Zuber (8), Nzuzi Toko (62), Pajtim Kasami (79) and Haris Seferović (81).
• Seferović also opened the scoring in Koprivnica on 2 June 2012, giving Switzerland a 15th-minute lead. Although Dejan Glavica levelled in the 73rd minute, Josip Drmić struck two minutes into added time to seal a Swiss win.
• Those six points helped Switzerland finish second behind Spain in Group 5, with Croatia eliminated in fourth place. Switzerland went on to lose 4-2 on aggregate to Germany in the play-offs (1-1 a, 1-3 h).
• Ruben Vargas (8), Bastien Toma (41), Jérémy Guillemenot (59) and Jan Bamert (81) were all on target as a Switzerland team coached by Mauro Lustrinelli beat Croatia 4-1 in a U20 friendly on 22 March 2019, Dario Špikić (33) scoring Croatia's only goal. Philipp Köhn, Kevin Rüegg, Silvan Sidler, Eray Cömert, Vasilije Janjicic, Toni Domgjoni and Nedim Bajrami also started for the Swiss, while Croatia's side included Adrian Šemper, Luka Hujber, Branimir Kalaica and Sandro Kulenović.
• All three of Croatia's U21 EURO final appearances have ended in the group stage. In 2019, they finished bottom of Group C behind Romania, France (both seven points) and England (1). Nenad Gračan's side lost to Romania (1-4) and France (0-1) before a 3-3 draw in England in which they came from behind three times.
• That 2019 appearance ended Croatia's 15-year wait to feature in the final tournament; the previous appearance had come in 2004 when, as on their 2000 debut, they finished bottom of their section having failed to win a game, drawing one and losing two on each occasion.
• Croatia's record in the final tournament group stage before 2021 was therefore W0 D3 L6 F11 A19.
• This time round, Igor Bišćan's side finished second in Group 4 a point behind the Czech Republic, taking 20 points from their ten games (W6 D2 L2). Croatia were unbeaten in their last six qualifiers (W4 D2), a 10-0 defeat of San Marino in Zagreb on 8 October 2020 the team's biggest ever victory.
• Switzerland are in the finals for the fourth time overall, and the first since 2011. Then, a side including future senior internationals Yann Sommer, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri kept four clean sheets on their way to the final, winning all three Group A games against hosts Denmark (1-0), Iceland (2-0) and Belarus (3-0) before beating the Czech Republic 1-0 after extra time in the semi-finals. Spain proved too strong in the final, however, running out 2-0 winners in Aarhus.
• The Swiss had also reached the semi-finals on home soil in 2002; their other finals appearance, two years later, ended in group stage elimination.
• Having lost to Germany in the play-offs for the 2013 finals, each of Switzerland's next three campaigns ended in the qualifying group stage.
• Mauro Lustrinelli, who took over from Heinz Moser in 2018, oversaw nine wins from ten games to take his team to these finals as Group 2 runners-up behind France. The teams finished level on 27 points apiece, Switzerland winning their first nine fixtures – including a 3-1 victory against France – but defeat by the same scoreline in their last qualifier left them behind their opponents on goal difference.
Links and trivia
• Croatia's Dario Vizinger scored in Wolfsberg's 3-1 defeat at home to Noah Okafor's Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga on 13 September 2020. It was Vizinger's debut for the club.
• Vizinger played 64 minutes as Wolfsberg won 3-2 at Salzburg on 20 December; Okafor was replaced after 55 minutes for Salzburg.