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U21 EURO semi-final preview: Spain v France

Spain take on France in a heavyweight semi-final – here's all you need to know.

Spain in good spirits during training in Reggio Emilia
Spain in good spirits during training in Reggio Emilia ©Sportsfile
  • Moussa Dembélé a doubt for France
  • Spain have reached three of last four U21 finals
  • France in first finals since reaching semis in 2006
  • Winner to meet Germany/Romania in Sunday's final
  • Meet the semi-finalists


Watch: Ceballos delight as Spain reach last four
Watch: Ceballos delight as Spain reach last four

Possible line-ups

Spain: Sivera; Martín Aguirregabiria, Vallejo, Jorge Meré, Junior Firpo; Marc Roca, Fabián Ruiz; Fornals, Ceballos, Dani Olmo; Mayoral
Out: none
Doubtful: Oyarzabal (ankle)

FranceBernardoni; Dagba, Konaté, Upamecano, M. Sarr; Aouar, Tousart, Ntcham; Reine-Adélaïde, Mateta, Ikoné
Out: Bamba (ankle)
Doubtful: Dembélé (ankle)

What the coaches say

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente
Spain coach Luis de la Fuente©Sportsfile

Luis de la Fuente, Spain: "We know how good France are. They are physically good, with great, quick players, a good style of play and fast counterattacks and transitions. We are two sides with completely different styles, which will make for a better game for the fans. We have players who can combat their defensive system. We will try and play how we did against Poland and dominate."

Sylvain Ripoll, France: "We're not afraid of Spain but we respect them. They were one of the favourites to win the tournament from the off, and they're a very good side. We will have to find a way to balance things, because sometimes if you play against an attacking team, you'll need to be offensive in your defence. I want my side to be ambitious. You can't always play the game you want, because your opponent won't let you. You have to strike a balance."

Road to the semi-finals

Watch: Spain 5-0 Poland highlights
Watch: Spain 5-0 Poland highlights

Spain: Group A winners

Matchday one: Italy 3-1 Spain
Matchday two: Spain 2-1 Belgium
Matchday three: Spain 5-0 Poland

France: Group C runners-up

Matchday one: England 1-2 France
Matchday two: France 1-0 Croatia
Matchday three: France 0-0 Romania

Key battle

Dani Ceballos v Houssem Aouar: Having watched the draw against Romania from the bench, Aouar is expected to start against Spain, a game that will likely be settled by who edges the midfield battle. Real Madrid's Ceballos has been in fine form in this tournament, setting Spain's tempo from the No10 role. Lyon's Aouar will be expected to do likewise for France.

Watch: Ntcham on France's semi-final berth
Watch: Ntcham on France's semi-final berth

Did you know?

Spain: Midfielder Ceballos, who has two goals and two assists in Italy, was named player of the tournament when Spain were runners-up in 2017.

France: Ripoll's side have conceded just one goal this tournament, at least two fewer than any other nation.

Where to watch

Fans can find their local broadcast partner(s) here.

Pre-match facts

  • The matchday three draw against Romania was the first group game in the U21 finals France had failed to win; they recorded three victories in both 2002 and 2006 before their two successes at this tournament.

  • Spain coach De la Fuente, who succeeded Albert Celades in July 2018, led Spain to the 2015 UEFA European Under-19 Championship title in Greece. Ceballos and Meré, among others, were in that squad.

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