Spain have recorded five wins and a draw in six competitive games against final Group A opponents Poland.
Article top media content
Spain will hope their UEFA European Under-21 Championship dominance against Poland continues as the sides conclude their Group A campaigns in Bologna.
• Poland, however, lead the way in the section on six points after wins against Belgium (3-2) and hosts Italy (1-0). They hold a three-point cushion over both Italy and Spain, who recovered from an opening 3-1 defeat by Italy to defeat Belgium 2-1 in their second game with a late winner from substitute Pablo Fornals.
• A point or more would therefore ensure Poland finish first in the group, and reach the semi-finals for the first time.
• Spain need to win and hope Italy fail to beat Belgium in the other matchday three fixture to be sure of finishing first; should Italy and Spain both win, leaving the pair level with Poland on six points, final placings will be determined by results of the matches between those three countries.
• Spain's record in six competitive U21 matches against Poland is five wins and a draw, with 14 goals scored and only three conceded.
• Spain have won the last five matches between the sides – and kept clean sheets in the last four – most recently home (2-0) and away (1-0) in qualifying for the 2011 final tournament, which they won in Denmark.
• La Rojita also reached the 2009 final tournament, helped by two wins against Poland in autumn 2007; 2-0 away and 3-0 at home.
• Poland's last competitive goal against Spain came more than 35 years ago, in a 4-1 second-leg defeat in the 1984 quarter-finals in Zaragoza. The first leg of that tie had finished 2-2, the last time Poland avoided defeat in a U21 EURO game against Spain, who went on to finish runners-up to England in that year's competition.
• Kamil Grabara and Sebastian Szymański were in the Poland team beaten 2-1 by Spain in the European U17 Championship qualifying round in October 2015; Szymański gave Poland an early lead.
• A Poland team featuring Paweł Bochniewicz and Dawid Kownacki suffered a 1-0 loss to Spain in the 2013 U17 EURO qualifying round.
• This is Spain's seventh appearance in the U21 final tournament since 1998, and a fifth in the competition's last six editions. They have only once failed to get past the group stage in their six previous participations, in 2009, and have reached the final in each of their last three, lifting the trophy in 2011 and 2013.
• Spain were also champions in 1986, and runners-up in 1984 and 1996.
• This time Spain qualified by finishing top of Group 2, winning nine of their ten qualifying fixtures with 31 goals scored and ten conceded.
• Defeat by Germany in the 2017 final ended Spain's ten-match unbeaten run in competitive U21 matches (W7 D3); the opening loss to Italy at these finals was only their third in their last 23 European U21 Championship games (W17 D3), the other in qualification at home to Northern Ireland on 11 September 2018 (1-2).
• Spain have won nine of their last ten group games at the finals; the opening defeat by Italy was their first in the group stage since a 2-0 reverse to England on 18 June 2009.
• Coach Luis de la Fuente, who succeeded Albert Celades in July 2018, led Spain to the 2015 UEFA European Under-19 Championship title in Greece with a squad including Antonio Sivera, Unai Simón, Jorge Meré, Mikel Merino, Alfonso Pedraza, Dani Ceballos and Borja Mayoral.
• Poland are in the final tournament for the second time; two years ago, as hosts, they finished fourth in Group A behind England, Slovakia and Sweden having picked up one point from their three matches.
• That was the Poles' first appearance in the U21 finals in the competition's current guise; they had previously reached the quarter-finals in 1994, losing 5-1 over two legs against Portugal (1-3 home, 0-2 away).
• Those 1994 matches marked Poland's fifth appearance in the last eight; they were also eliminated at that stage in 1982, 1984, 1986 and 1992.
• Although undefeated in their qualifying section, Poland had to be content with second place in Group 3 behind Denmark. The Poles took 22 points from their ten matches – one less than the Danes – winning six of their fixtures and drawing the other four. They then eliminated Portugal in the play-offs, recovering from a first-leg home defeat (0-1) to win 3-1 away.
• Poland had never won a group game in the final tournament before matchday one; their record is now W2 D1 L2.
Links and trivia
• Poland captain Dawid Kownacki was the top scorer in the qualifying competition, with 11 goals – ten in the group stage, including six penalties, and another in the play-offs.
• Fabián Ruiz came on as a substitute in Spain's 4-1 UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying win away to the Faroe Islands on 7 June and started the 3-0 defeat of Sweden in Madrid three days later. Mikel Oyarzabal came on against Sweden to score Spain's third goal, his first at senior international level.