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FYR Macedonia v Portugal background

Portugal have dominated their six previous matches against FYR Macedonia, and will be seeking another victory to round off Group B on a winning note.

Tiago Ilori got the only goal the last time Portugal played FYR Macedonia
Tiago Ilori got the only goal the last time Portugal played FYR Macedonia ©Getty Images

Portugal have dominated their previous contests with FYR Macedonia and will target another victory to end Group B on a winning note.

Previous meetings
• This is the teams' seventh competitive meeting at Under-21 level – Portugal winning five of those six past encounters.

• Portugal won both fixtures in qualifying for the 2015 finals, recording a 2-0 home success thanks to goals early in the second half from Bernardo Silva (51) and Ricardo Esgaio (59pen). Gonçalo Paciência missed a 66th-minute penalty for Portugal.

• The line-ups at the Estádio Cidade de Barcelos in Barcelos on 5 March 2014 were:
Portugal: José Sá, Rúben Vezo, Paulo Oliveira, Luís Martins, Ricardo Esgaio, Luís Gustavo, João Mário, Bernardo Silva (Marcos Lopes 68), Carlos Mané (Ricardo 35), André Gomes (Sérgio Oliveira 77), Gonçalo Paciência.
FYR Macedonia: Dimitrievski, Ristovski (Radeski 55), Alioski, Zajkov, Blaževski, Micevski (Velkoski 61), Dorian Babunski (Gjurgjevic 80), David Babunski, Trajkovski, Aškovski, Musliu.

• A solitary 64th-minute goal from Tiago Ilori proved enough for Portugal to win away to FYR Macedonia two months later, Rui Jorge's side prevailing despite Ricardo Esgaio's 39th-minute spot-kick failure to confirm their place in the play-offs.

• The line-ups at Skopje's Philip II Arena on 23 May 2014 were:
FYR Macedonia: Dimitrievski, Toševski, Damchevski, Blaževski, Zajkov, Radeski (Markoski 46), Micevski, Dorian Babunski (Simonovski 61), Nikolov, Aškovski, Velkoski (Gjurgjevic 64).
Portugal: José Sá, Ricardo Esgaio, Tiago Ilori, Paulo Oliveira, Raphäel Guerreiro, Luís Gustavo (Carlos Mané 57), João Mário, Bernardo Silva, Ricardo (Tozé 75), André Gomes, Ivan Cavaleiro (Gonçalo Paciência 46).

• Portugal were also 3-1 winners at home in the qualifying group stage for the 2011 finals. The reverse fixture in Prilep had finished 1-1 – the only time FYR Macedonia have avoided defeat against Portugal.

• The Iberian side also picked up two victories in qualifying for the 2004 finals, posting a 1-0 home win before a 4-1 away success.

• Portugal have met FYR Macedonia in two European U19 Championship qualifiers, winning 3-1 in the 2005/06 elite round and 3-0 in the 2009/10 qualifying round.

Match background

FYR Macedonia
• This is the first UEFA final tournament FYR Macedonia have ever qualified for; they played in the 2010 WU19 EURO as hosts.

• In qualifying for these finals, FYR Macedonia amassed 21 points to top Group 3, one point clear of France. They earned six wins and three draws in their ten fixtures; their 13 goals was the lowest total among the teams who progressed to Poland.

• Portugal lost the 2015 final to Sweden on their first appearance in the tournament since 2007. They had also been runners-up in 1994 before a quarter-final finish two years later. Subsequently the Portuguese came third in 2004, yet have otherwise been eliminated in the final tournament group stage – in 2002, 2006 (as hosts) and 2007.

• In 2017 qualifying, Portugal won eight and drew two of their ten Group 4 fixtures to finish five points above Israel at the summit. Their 34 goals were bettered only by Germany, with 35.

Coach and player links
• Edgar Ié was a Barcelona B team-mate of David Babunski between 2013 and 2015.

Coach profiles

Blagoja Milevski, FYR Macedonia
A defender whose playing career spanned almost three decades, Milevski started and finished at Vardar, sandwiching spells in Greece, Slovenia – where he won the cup with Maribor in 1994 – Turkey and Israel. A 2009 title winner in FYR Macedonia with FK Makedonija, he retired 12 months later and moved into coaching as an assistant at Vardar in 2011.

Took over as head coach the following year, winning the Macedonian First League and Super Cup in 2013 and being named the country's Coach of the Year – an award he won again in 2016. The U21 job came along in September 2014.

Rui Jorge, Portugal
A left-back with 44 Portugal caps, Rui Jorge played at UEFA EURO 2000 and 2004, as well as the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He landed seven Portuguese Liga championships and three Portuguese Cups with Porto and Sporting before retiring after a stay at Belensenses, where he then began coaching the U19s.

Appointed Portugal U21 coach at the end of 2010, he failed to qualify for the 2013 U21 EURO but took his team all the way to the final in 2015, which they lost to Sweden on penalties. He also coached Portugal at the 2016 Olympic Games, reaching the last eight.