Romania v Croatia facts
Wednesday, 12 June 2019
Romania have not featured in the finals since 1998 while Croatia are appearing for the first time in 15 years.
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Romania and Croatia will be keen to make an early impact at the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship as they meet on matchday one in Serravalle.
• Both teams are ending lengthy absences from the tournament ahead of their fixture at the San Marino Stadium – the first UEFA finals match to be played in San Marino.
• This is the sides' first U21 fixture.
• They have also been infrequent opponents in the European U19 and U17 Championships. They have met only twice in competitive U19 games – both in 2004 – while they have also played twice in U17 qualifying, most recently in March 2010.
• Romania are appearing in the final tournament for only the second time, and the first in 21 years; they lost to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the 1998 tournament, which Romania hosted.
• Romania lost all three games at those 1998 finals; they were subsequently beaten by Germany (0-1) and Russia (1-2) to finish in eighth place.
• Since that appearance 21 years ago, Romania have reached the play-offs twice, losing over two legs to France (0-5) ahead of the 2002 finals and England (1-2) in 2011 qualifying.
• This time round, however, Romania were one of five teams to qualify unbeaten (W7 D3), with their four goals conceded the joint lowest total along with England. They won their final four qualifiers, keeping clean sheets in the last three to make it six overall in the group.
• Croatia are ending a 15-year wait to feature in the final tournament; the most recent of their two previous appearances came 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 is therefore W0 D2 L4 F7 A11.
• Croatia have lost in the play-offs three times since their last finals appearance, in 2006 (Serbia and Montenegro, 2-5 on aggregate), 2011 (Spain, 1-5 agg) and 2015 (England, 2-4 agg).
• This time round, Croatia finished top of qualifying Group 1 with 25 points from their ten games (W8 D1 L1). A closing run of four successive victories, with 14 goals scored and none conceded, proved crucial – particularly the 2-0 win at home to Greece in their penultimate fixture which ultimately took Nenad Gračan's team through on head-to-head record after the teams had finished level on points.
Links and trivia
• Croatia beat Romania 1-0 in the last 16 of the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Davor Šuker – the current president of the Croatian Football Federation – scoring the only goal from the penalty spot.
• At 38, Romania's Mirel Rădoi is the youngest coach at the final tournament – by nine years.
• Romania's Alex Paşcanu and Croatia's Filip Benković are both on the books of English Premier League club Leicester, though neither has played for the first team.
• George Puşcaş scored twice in Romania's 4-0 win away to Malta in a UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier on 10 June. Fellow U21 squad members Ionuţ Nedelcanu, Ianis Hagi and Tudor Băluţă were also in the starting XI, with Dennis Man coming on in the second half. Puşcaş was also a starter and Hagi a substitute in a 2-2 draw away to Norway in the same competition three days earlier.
• Josip Brekalo started Croatia's UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier against Wales in Osijek on 8 June, helping his side to a 2-1 win.