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France v Croatia facts

A 2-2 friendly draw in November 2018 suggests France's Group C match against Croatia could be a close contest.

Jonathan Ikoné (No12) leads the France comeback on matchday one
Jonathan Ikoné (No12) leads the France comeback on matchday one ©Sportsfile

France face Croatia in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship for the first time in the second round of Group C games, with last year's friendly suggesting a close contest.

• It looked as if France's campaign would open with a defeat as they trailed ten-man England 1-0 going into the closing stages on matchday one, Moussa Dembélé and Houssem Aouar having both missed penalties, but Jonathan Ikoné's 89th-minute equaliser was followed by an Aaron Wan-Bissaka own goal four minutes into added time as Sylvain Ripoll's side engineered a dramatic late turnaround.

• Croatia, meanwhile, must look to respond quickly having kicked off with a 4-1 loss against Romania.

Highlights: England 1-2 France

Previous meetings
• This is the first competitive fixture between the teams.

• The sides shared a 2-2 friendly draw in the French city of Beauvais last autumn. Jean-Philippe Mateta gave the home side a 14th-minute lead only for strikes either side of half-time from Alen Halilović (36) and Filip Uremović (55) to turn the match in Croatia's favour before Jonathan Bamba earned a draw eight minutes from time.   

• The teams at the Stade Pierre-Brisson on 14 November 2018 were:
France: Larsonneur, Amian (Mukiele 79), Diop, Niakhate (Upamecano 64), Ballo-Touré (Nsoki 80), Coco, Tousart (Sissoko 64), Guendouzi, Ikoné (Reine-Adélaïde 73), Terrier (Bamba 64), Mateta (Saint-Maximin 73).
Croatia: Grbić, Uremović, Katić, Pongračić, Mamić, Ivanušec, Šunjić, Moro, Halilović, Jakoliš (Babić 79), Bradarić (Mudražija 68).

• Paul Bernardoni and Lucas Tousart, plus substitute Marcus Thuram, helped France to a 2-0 group stage win against Croatia at the 2016 European U19 Championship, which they went on to win. Josip Brekalo, Luka Ivanušec, Marijan Čabraja and substitute Nikola Moro featured for Croatia.

• Halilović was in the Croatia team that beat France 1-0 in the U17 EURO elite round in March 2013. Olivier Ntcham and Dembélé featured for France; Ivo Grbić was an unused Croatia substitute.

U21 EURO 2019: Guide to the host cities

Form guide
• France have not featured in the final tournament since 2006, when they lost 3-2 after extra time to eventual champions the Netherlands in the semi-finals. This is just their third appearance in an eight or 12-team finals; they finished as runners-up on the other occasion, in 2002.

• Champions in 1988, France finished third in 1996 and fourth two years earlier, also reaching the quarter-finals in 1982, 1984 and 1986.

• Since reaching the 2006 finals, four of France's six U21 campaigns have ended in the play-offs – in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2015. They finished second behind North Macedonia in their 2017 qualifying section.

• This time round, Ripoll's team won their first nine fixtures, drawing the last 1-1 at home to Slovenia, to win qualifying Group 9 by 12 points. They qualified with two games to spare, their final tally of 28 points the highest recorded by any team.

• The draw with Slovenia ended France's 11-match winning run in competitive internationals, going back to a 1-0 loss in Ukraine in September 2016. That is France's sole defeat in their last 20 European U21 Championship matches (W16 D3).

• Matchday one extended France's winning run in group games at the U21 finals to seven; they recorded three victories in both 2002 and 2006.

• Dayot Upamecano, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde and Ikoné were all in the France squad that won 2015 U17 EURO.

• Bernardoni, Tousart and Thuram were all members of France's 2016 European U19 Championship-winning squad, Tousart scoring in the 4-0 final victory against Italy.

Highlights: Romania 4-1 Croatia

• 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.

• Having lost to Romania, Croatia's record in the final tournament group stage is now W0 D2 L5 F8 A15.

• 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 midfielder Toma Bašić has been a Bordeaux player since August 2018.

• Aouar scored in a 2-1 Lyon win at Dinamo Zagreb in the UEFA Youth League group stage on 22 November 2016; Moro was in the home line-up.

• Tousart made his UEFA Champions League debut as a substitute against Dinamo Zagreb on 14 September 2016. Adrian Šemper and Filip Benković both played 90 minutes for Dinamo, who lost 3-0.

• Croatia coach Gračan was part of the Yugoslavia side beaten 4-2 after extra time by France in the semi-finals of the 1984 Olympic Games football tournament; Yugoslavia and Gračan went on to defeat Italy 2-1 to win the bronze medal.

• Brekalo started Croatia's UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier against Wales in Osijek on 8 June, helping his side to a 2-1 win.