England kick off their eighth successive finals campaign against Switzerland, who have never beaten their opponents in a competitive match.
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Having qualified for every UEFA European Under-21 Championship since 2007, England will be on familiar ground as they kick off their Group D campaign against Switzerland at Koper's Stadion Bonifika.
• The Swiss have never beaten England in a European U21 Championship match and are in the finals for the first time in a decade although England, despite their considerable recent experience in the tournament, have found it difficult to negotiate the initial group stage.
• England are unbeaten in their six competitive meetings with Switzerland (W4 D2). Their three-game winning run against the Swiss was ended by a 1-1 draw in their most recent meeting, in Thun on 26 March 2016, when Chuba Akpom's 47th-minute opener was cancelled out by Florian Kamberi's equaliser for the home side 14 minutes from time.
• Akpom had also scored in England's 3-1 home win in Brighton on 16 November 2015, the home side finding the net three times in the last eight minutes. Shani Tarashaj's 45th-minute strike put the Swiss on course for victory but James Ward-Prowse levelled with a penalty in the 82nd minute before Duncan Watmore (85) and Akpom (90+1) completed the late turnaround.
• England – managed by current senior coach Gareth Southgate – went on to finish first in Group 9 and reach the final tournament, with the Swiss eliminated in third place.
• England won 3-2 in Lucerne in qualifying for the 2007 finals. Goals from Theo Walcott (13) and David Nugent (19) put the visitors in charge and, though Johan Vonlanthen (29 pen) and Tranquillo Barnetta (70) hauled Switzerland level, James Milner's goal with two minutes left gave England the points on their way to qualifying for the final tournament.
• This is only the sides' second match at the U21 EURO, the first having come on Swiss soil in the 2002 group stage. Jermain Defoe (2) and Peter Crouch (53) set up England's win, with Alexander Frei's 58th-minute response not enough for the hosts. Switzerland had the last laugh, however, going through as Group A runners-up behind Italy, with England eliminated in fourth place having failed to add to their points tally.
• Switzerland are unbeaten in friendlies against England (W1 D1), most recently a 2-0 victory in March 1998.
• Amir Saipi's Switzerland were beaten 1-0 by an England U20 team including Josef Bursik and Brandon Williams at Basel's St. Jakob-Park on 9 September 2019.
• England have qualified for their eighth successive U21 final tournament – the longest ongoing sequence in the competition. They failed to win a game in Italy two years ago, conceding twice late on to lose to both France (1-2) and Romania (2-4) and drawing with Croatia (3-3) to finish third in Group C.
• England have made it past the initial group stage three times in those seven finals appearances although the 2017 defeat on penalties by eventual champions Germany in the last four is their only knockout appearance in the last five final tournaments; runners-up in 2009, they also lost in the 2007 semi-finals.
• This is England's tenth participation in an eight or 12-team U21 finals; six of those previous nine campaigns ended in the group stage.
• Champions in 1982 and 1984, England also reached the semi-finals in 1978, 1980, 1986 and 1988.
• England have won only three of their last 16 group games at the final tournament (D5 L8).
• In qualifying for these finals Aidy Boothroyd – who has been in charge since 2016 – oversaw an unbeaten campaign, England winning nine of their ten fixtures to finish on 28 points, ten clear of Austria at the top of Group 3.
• England have reached each of the last four U21 final tournaments without losing a game. Their last qualifying defeat was a 2-1 loss in Belgium on 14 November 2011; their subsequent record is W37 D6.
• Eddie Nketiah was the top scorer in qualifying overall with 13 goals. He is England's all-time U21 top scorer on 16.
• Switzerland are in the finals for the fourth time overall, and the first since 2011. Then, a side including future senior internationals Yann Sommer, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri kept four clean sheets on their way to the final, winning all three Group A games against hosts Denmark (1-0), Iceland (2-0) and Belarus (3-0) before beating the Czech Republic 1-0 after extra time in the semi-finals. Spain proved too strong in the final, however, running out 2-0 winners in Aarhus.
• The Swiss had also reached the semi-finals on home soil in 2002; their other finals appearance, two years later, ended in group stage elimination.
• Switzerland lost to Germany in the play-offs for the 2013 finals (1-1 a, 1-3 h); each of their next three campaigns ended in the qualifying group stage.
• Mauro Lustrinelli, who took over from Heinz Moser in 2018, oversaw nine wins from ten games to take his team to these finals as Group 2 runners-up behind France. The teams finished level on 27 points apiece, Switzerland winning their first nine fixtures – including a 3-1 victory against France – but defeat by the same scoreline in their last qualifier left them behind their opponents on goal difference.
Links and trivia
• Have played in England:
Andi Zeqiri (Brighton 2020–)
Alexandre Jankewitz (Southampton 2018–)
• Zeqiri made his Brighton debut as a second-half substitute in a 1-1 Premier League draw against Aaron Ramsdale's Sheffield United on 20 December 2020.