Italy v Sweden background

Under-21 Group B opens in Olomouc with this competition's most successful nation, Italy, taking on the team they beat to claim their first title in 1992, Sweden.

Sweden kick off their U21 EURO against Italy
Sweden kick off their U21 EURO against Italy ©Getty Images

UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group B opens in Olomouc with this competition's most successful nation, Italy, taking on Sweden, who they beat for their first title in 1992 – the year most of the 2015 finals squads were born.

Previous meetings
• This will be the tenth meeting of these teams in this competition and the most important came in 1992 when Italy faced Sweden in the two-legged final.

• It was the first time either nation had reached the final and Italy won the opening leg 2-0 in Ferrara thanks to Renato Buso and Gianluca Sordo. Sweden prevailed in the return 1-0 in Vaxjo through Pascal Simpson but Italy took the first of what is now a record five titles; Sweden have not got past the semis since.

• The most recent competitive encounter was in the 2013 qualifying play-offs, which again went Italy's way as they won 1-0 in Pescara and 3-2 in Kalmar against a Sweden team under Håkan Ericson.

• The teams at the Stadio Adriatico-Giovanni Cornacchia on 12 October 2013 were:
Italy
: Bardi; De Sciglio, Frascatore, Capuano, Marrone, Caldirola, Saponara (F Rossi 59), Florenzi (Viviani 82), Immobile (Gabbiadini 76), Insigne, De Luca.
Sweden
: Johnsson; M Johansson, Jansson, Pettersson, Demir, Hamad, Hiljemark, J Johansson, Claesson, Ishak, Armenteros (Jönsson 70).

• Ciro Immobile scored the only goal in the 17th minute at the stadium where he spent 2011/12 alongside fellow loanee Lorenzo Insigne.

• The teams at Kalmar Arena on 16 October 2013 were:
Sweden: Johnsson; M Johansson, Jansson, Pettersson, Demir (Claesson 77), Hamad, Hiljemark, J Johansson (Jönsson 70), Albonrnoz, Ishak, Celik (Armenteros 70).
Italy
: Bardi; De Sciglio, Frascatore, Capuano, Marrone, Caldirola, Florenzi (Crimi 82), F Rossi, Immobile (Saponara 90), Insigne, De Luca (Gabbiadini 59).

• Insigne opened the scoring on 59 minutes and Alessandro Florenzi added another 12 minutes later. Mikael Ishak immediately pulled one back and Oscar Hiljemark put Sweden within one goal with 13 minutes left only for Immobile to settle matters.

• The only meeting between these nations in a modern U21 final tournament was in 2009, when Italy beat hosts Sweden 2-1 in Helsingborg with Mario Balotelli among the scorers. Both were to progress from the group and lose in the semis.

• Of nine previous competitive meetings, Italy have won five to Sweden's one with three draws. The goal tally to Italy is 14-9, the first leg of the 1992 final the only fixture to end with a winning margin of more than one.

• Including friendlies, Italy have beaten Sweden eight times in 16 fixtures, losing two and drawing six. Italy have scored 25 goals to Sweden's 13.

Match background
• 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.

• Sweden's best run was to the 1992 final. They also reached the semis in 1990, 2004 and 2009 (as hosts) but did not qualify in 2011 and 2013.

• Sweden have got through both previous group stages they have competed in in 2004 and 2009.

Coach profiles
Italy: Luigi Di Biagio
Born 03/06/71
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.

Sweden: Håkan Ericson
Born: 29/05/1960
The son of Georg Ericson, Sweden coach from 1970–79, Håkan Ericson took charge of the U21s in November 2010. Formerly at the helm of Norrköping, he moved into the dugout in 1983 after a knee injury cut short his career when he was 21.

Form guide
Italy
Last five games (most recent first): LDWLW
Qualifying top scorer: Andrea Belotti (6)

Sweden
Last five games (most recent first): DWWDD
Qualifying top scorer: John Guidetti, Isaac Kiese Thelin (4)

Italy team news
• Italy arrived in the Czech Republic from Milan on Monday evening after a pre-tournament camp at Internazionale's training centre at Appiano Gentile.

• The Azzurrini won 7-0 against Inter's youth side last Friday in their final warm-up game before the U21 EURO. Andrea Belotti and Christian Battocchio scored in the first half, while Marcello Trotta, Daniele Baselli, Domenico Berardi, Marco Benassi and Federico Barba all found the net in the second half. Coach Luigi Di Biagio said: "We've scored seven goals from seven different players, and this proves that the main strength of this team is the group."

• Left-back Cristiano Biraghi, who also played in the 2013 final tournament, said before departure: "We have worked a lot in these last two weeks. We know what to do, we are aware of our strengths, and we have a common goal. We will try to do our best in a difficult group."

• The Italy squad includes three players that have already made their UEFA Champions League debut: Lorenzo Crisetig (group stage 2011/12 with Inter against CSKA Moskva), Stefano Sturaro (quarter-final first-leg with Juventus against Monaco) and Biraghi (group stage 2010/11 with Inter against Twente)

• FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio visited the team last Saturday, and wished them the best of luck, saying: "For our association, the U21 EURO is one of the most important objectives. I am confident we can accomplish something significant. Our team is well structured. The Under-21 side is crucial for the future of our senior national team, and I can already see a lot of players here who are ready for the senior team."

Sweden team news

• Sweden prepared for the final tournament in Trelleborg and also made the short trip to fellow-finalists Denmark. The sides played out a 2–2 draw on 11 June.

• John Guidetti put Sweden ahead against the Danes. Simon Gustafsson equalised late in the game.

• Right-back Emil Krafth came off after just 20 minutes of the match against Denmark due to severe back pains and his since withdrawn from the squad. He has been replaced by Benfica's Victor Nilsson Lindelöf.

• Alexander Milošević played 90 minutes for Sweden's senior team in the 3–1 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying win against Montenegro on 14 June, the eve of the U21s' departure for the Czech Republic.

• Isaac Kiese Thelin and Ludwig Augustinsson were also in the senior squad for the Montenegro game, but were unused substitutes. Bordeaux forward Kiese Thelin received treatment on a heel problem while with the seniors but has been training as normal since joining the U21 party.

• Oscar Lewicki, the Malmö midfielder, said after the full squad trained on Tuesday: "We've had two training sessions with really good intensity. We rehearsed set pieces today and we already know a lot about Italy and are aware of the things we have to do ourselves when playing against them."