Italy v Portugal background
Saturday, 20 June 2015
Three days on from facing Sweden, their first final victims from 1992, Italy take on Portugal, who they beat to retain the trophy in 1994, needing a win to get off the mark in Group B.
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Three days on from facing Sweden, their first UEFA European Under-21 Championship final victims from 1992, Italy now play the team they beat to retain the trophy two years later, Portugal, in their second Group B fixture.
• Italy began their Group B campaign with a 2-1 loss to Sweden on Thursday. They trail Sunday's opponents by three points after João Mário scored the only goal on 57 minutes as Portugal defeated England later the same day.
• The four semi-finalists in the Czech Republic will qualify for next summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Should England reach the last four, the two third-placed teams will contest a play-off on 28 June to take their place.
• This will be their 13th match in this competition, the most important coming in 1994 when Italy faced Portugal in the first one-off final.
• Italy were the holders having beaten Sweden two years earlier, and in a final packed with future stars overcame Portugal 1-0 in Montpellier thanks to an extra-time winner from substitute Pierluigi Orlandini.
• The teams at the Stade de la Mosson on 20 April 1994 were:
Italy: Toldo; Cannavaro, Colonnese, Panucci, Berretta, Cherubini, F Inzaghi (Orlandini 84), Marcolin, Scarchilli, Carbibem, Muzzi.
Portugal: Brassard; Nélson, Bento, J Costa, Torres, Xavier, Figo, Pinto, Toni (Sá Pinto 79), R Costa, Capucho.
• Fernando Brassard, the losing goalkeeper that night, is Portugal's Under-21 goalkeeping coach.
• The teams had also met in qualifying, including Italy's 2-1 home win against Portugal on 18 November 1993 in Padova when Rui Jorge was sent off.
• The current Portugal coach also played in both legs of their 1996 quarter-final when his side won 1-0 in Lisbon but lost 2-0 in Palermo.
• Their most recent meeting at this level was in the 2007 fifth-place play-off to decide Olympic qualification. After a 0-0 draw in Nijmegen, Pierluigi Casiraghi's Italy won 4-3 on penalties to earn a ticket to the Beijing Olympics, where they reached the quarter-finals.
• With Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi shown a second yellow card in the 74th minute, successful spot kicks from Graziano Pellè, Riccardo Montolivo, Domenico Criscito and Raffaele Palladino gave Italy a shoot-out win. João Moutinho, Nani and Miguel Veloso scored for Portugal, but Manuel Fernandes and Antunes missed.
• The teams at the Gofferstadion on 21 June 2007 were:
Portugal: Ribeiro; Pereira (Djaló 106), Da Costa (Rolando 85), Antunes, Semedo, Veloso, Fernandes, Moutinho, Nani, Varela, Vaz Tê (Moreira 70).
Italy: Viviano; Andreolli, Chiellini, Criscito, Nocerino, Motta, Montolivo, Aquilani, Rosina (Palladino 61), Rossi, Pazzini (Pellè 55).
• In other finals meetings, Italy beat Portugal 3-1 in the 2004 semi-finals in Bochum on their way to their fifth title. Two years before, they had drawn 1-1 in the group stage in Basle in their opening game, the Azzurrini eventually to progress.
• Of 12 previous competitive meetings, Italy have won seven to Portugal's three with two draws. The goal tally to Italy is 21-9, including the 6-0 win in Piacenza in December 1987 that remains Portugal's record competitive U21 defeat.
• Including friendlies, Italy have beaten Portugal nine times in 15 fixtures, losing three and drawing three. Italy have scored 26 goals to Portugal's 11.
• Italy's record haul of five titles came in 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2004.
• They were also runners-up in 1986 and 2013 and made the semi-finals in 1984, 2002 and 2009. Their only group exits were in 2006 and 2007.
• Portugal's best run was to the 1994 final. They finished third in 2004 and went out in the group stage in 2002, 2006 and 2007, their most recent qualification.
• Coaches Luigi di Biagio and Rui Jorge met in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. Jorge's Sporting were held 0-0 at home then lost 2-0 away to an Inter side for whom Di Biagio scored.
Italy: Luigi Di Biagio
Di Biagio was promoted from his role as Italy U20 boss in June 2013, replacing Devis Mangia. The erstwhile Roma and Inter midfielder was in the Azzurri team beaten by David Trezeguet's golden goal for France in the UEFA EURO 2000 final in Rotterdam.
Portugal: Rui Jorge
Jorge succeeded Oceano Cruz in November 2010. The one-time Porto, Rio Ave, Sporting and Belenenses left-back made 45 appearances for his country, including one at UEFA EURO 2004 on home soil and three at the FIFA World Cup two years earlier.
Last five games (most recent first): LLDWL
Qualifying top scorer: Andrea Belotti (6)
Last five games (most recent first): WLDLW
Qualifying top scorer: Ricardo (5)
• Italy midfielder Stefano Sturaro was handed a three-match ban on Saturday following his dismissal for pushing Sweden's Filip Helander in the face on Thursday. The Juventus midfielder told the Italian media on Friday afternoon: "I have apologised to my team-mates for the red card. It was a huge mistake and I surprised myself with what I did."
• Although Italy are the only U21 EURO squad without a senior international, Sturaro is one of three players with UEFA Champions League experience. The others are Lorenzo Crisetig (2011/12 group stage for Inter against CSKA Moskva) and Cristiano Biraghi (2010/11 group stage for Inter against Twente).
• The players who did not feature in the opening 2-1 defeat by Sweden took part in a full training session on Friday, while those who did participated in a low-key warm down.
• Francesco Bardi, Matteo Bianchetti and Federico Viviani were booked on matchday one and will be suspended if they receive another yellow card against Portugal.
• The squad got together for an official photograph on the morning after the England victory before Rúben Neves, the youngest player at the finals, spoke at a press conference. The ensuing training session was open to the media and fans.
• One of those supporters was a disabled Czech teenager Daniel, a huge fan of Portuguese football and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular. The 18-year-old local met his two favourite players, Paulo Oliveira and Ricardo, who posed for photos and presented the visitor with a souvenir.
• Ivan Cavaleiro suffered a blow on his right leg against England and missed Friday's training session. Medical staff confirmed that the Deportivo La Coruña winger is a doubt to face Italy.
• Bernardo Silva may have been the man of the match on Thursday, but William Carvalho also received plenty of praise on social media for his impressive display – particularly from fans of English Premier League clubs keen for their team to sign the Sporting midfielder.
• Tiago Ilori had the support of his father Kola, an Englishman of Nigerian descent, who was in Uherske Hradiste on Thursday to watch the match alongside his other son, Ricardo. It was a special win for the Ilori family considering Tiago was born in London.
• João Mário and Bernardo were booked on matchday one and will be suspended if they receive another yellow card against Italy.