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U21 stats: how important is an opening-day win?

Win your opening game at the U21 EURO final tournament and you have almost a 77% chance of reaching the semi-finals; UEFA.com runs over some  key figures ahead of kick-off.

Czech Republic lost their opening game in 2002 but went on to lift the trophy
Czech Republic lost their opening game in 2002 but went on to lift the trophy ©Getty Images

What price an opening-day win?

A curtain-raising win augurs well at a U21 EURO.

  • Nearly 77% of first-game winners have made the knockout stages since 2000.
  • Draw on your final tournament debut, and your semi-final chances are slashed to 50/50.
  • Just 23% of teams who have lost their opening match have made the last four.
Postiga, Frei, Malbranque: Watch the best goals of the 2002 U21s

Still, should your nation slip up out of the starting gate, do not despair. In the last nine U21 EUROs, only four of the overall winners triumphed in their first games, and three of the champions succeded despite an opening-day defeat.

With the new 12-team format meaning only the group winners are guaranteed to make progress, the first 90 minutes for each squad in Poland will be all the more crucial.

U21 EURO by numbers

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0 - only two U21 finals have ended goalless: in 2002, the Czech Republic beat France on penalties after a stalemate in Basel, and the 2015 final in Prague, when Sweden beat Portugal in the shoot-out.

4 - the number of players who have scored hat-tricks at U21 EUROs: Aris Karasavvidis (Greece, 1988), Marcus Berg (Sweden, 2009), Thiago Alcântara (Spain, 2013) and Jan Kliment (Czech Republic, 2015).

5 - number of U21 EUROs won by the competition's most successful team, Italy, who are making their 19th U21 EURO finals appearance this year. They won four of the five tournaments between 1992 and 2000.

7 - number of goals scored by Sweden's Marcus Berg at the 2009 finals, a competition record that earned him that final tournament's adidas Golden Boot.

10 - the number of goals scored in the 2015 semi-finals, the highest-scoring last four fixtures in the competition's history. Ironically, the final itself ended goalless.

13 - the record number of finals appearances, set by defender Branislav Ivanović, who featured at three tournaments: in 2004 and 2006 with Serbia and Montenegro, and 2007 with Serbia.

The best goals of the 2004 U21s featuring Ivanović and Hleb

38 - the number of goals scored in the highest-scoring U21 EURO group stage, in 2004: an average of 3.16 per game.

58 - the number of goals the 12 teams in Poland must score in the group stage to better the goals-per-game average from 2004.

63 - the unwanted record for the most goals conceded at U21 EURO final tournaments, currently held by England.

89 - the record tally of goals at U21 EUROs, held by finals regulars Italy.