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Russia vs Iceland: Under-21 EURO background, form guide, previous meetings

Russia and Iceland are both making their second finals appearance with the former having dominated their past fixtures.

Iceland's Arnór Sigurðsson in action for CSKA Moskva
Iceland's Arnór Sigurðsson in action for CSKA Moskva ANP Sport via Getty Images

Russia and Iceland are both making their second appearance in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship as they meet in the opening round of Group C games.

• History favours Russia for their fixture at the Gyirmóti Stadion in Győr, although both sides will be hoping for a positive start as they look to improve on their last finals appearance, which in each case ended in the group stage.

2021 Under-21 EUROs: Meet the teams

Previous meetings
• Russia have dominated the European U21 Championship meetings between the sides, winning all four matches while scoring 11 goals and conceding only one.

• The teams have not met since 9 June 1999, when Russia ran out 3-0 winners at Moscow's Stadion Lokomotiv thanks to second-half goals from Maxim Buznikin (67), Artem Bezrodny (70) and Alexey Saveliev (83).

• Russia had won 2-1 in Kópavogur on 14 October 1998, Denis Laktionov (9) and Rolan Gusev (61) getting the goals with Andri Sigþórsson's 75th-minute effort in vain for Iceland.

• Russia, however, failed to qualify for the final tournament despite finishing as runners-up to France in Group 4, losing 4-1 on aggregate to Slovakia in the play-offs. Iceland were eliminated in fourth place in the qualifying section.

• It was a different outcome in the 1994 preliminaries, Russia beating Iceland home (5-0) and away (1-0) – Igor Simutenkov scoring in both games – en route to finishing first in Group 5. They subsequently lost 3-0 on aggregate to France in the quarter-finals.

• Aleksandr Lomovitski opened the scoring in Russia's 4-0 win against Iceland in Krasnodar in the European U17 Championship elite round on 23 March 2015. Aleksandr Maksimenko and Nikita Kalugin also appeared for Russia, with Kolbeinn Finnsson, Jón Dagur Thorsteinsson and substitute Hördur Ingi Gunnarsson in the Iceland line-up. Mikhail Galaktionov, the current Russia U21 coach, was in charge for the home side.

2021 Under-21 EURO: The host cities

Form guide
• Champions as part of the Soviet Union in 1980 and 1990, this is only Russia's second finals appearance since they reached the quarter-finals in 1998, a tournament in which they finished in seventh place.

• Russia's most recent U21 EURO, in 2013, ended in group stage elimination; a side coached by Nikolai Pisarev lost to Spain (0-1), Netherlands (1-5) and Germany (1-2) to finish bottom of Group B, Russia's only goals coming from future senior internationals Denis Cheryshev and Alan Dzagoev.

• Russia have therefore lost five of their six games at the U21 final tournament, the exception a 2-1 victory against hosts Romania in Bucharest in the seventh-place play-off in 1998.

• This time round, a team coached by Galaktionov – who has been in charge since 2018 – finished first in qualifying Group 5 on 23 points, three ahead of second-placed Poland. Russia won seven of their ten fixtures, losing only to Poland in their eighth game (0-1 a) and scoring four goals in each of their last two, against Estonia (4-0 h) and Latvia (4-1 a).

2019 Under-21 EURO review

• Iceland are making only their second appearance in the final tournament having featured in the 2011 finals in Denmark. After 2-0 defeats by both Belarus and Switzerland, goals from Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, Birkir Bjarnason – both key members of the squad that reached the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-finals – and Hjörtur Logi Valgardsson, who also went on to represent Iceland at senior level, secured a 3-1 closing win against the hosts in Aalborg.

• That left Eyjólfur Sverrisson's Iceland third in Group A on three points, level with Belarus – who claimed second place, and a semi-final spot, in a three-way head-to-head – and Denmark, with Switzerland first on nine points.

How the under-21 finals were won 1996-2017

• In qualifying for the 2021 finals, a team coached by Arnar Thór Vidarsson – who was named head coach of the senior side on 22 December 2020 – claimed second place in Group 1 on 21 points, winning seven of their ten games with two of their three defeats coming against section winners Italy (25 points). Iceland were credited with victories in four of their last five matches, including the last two.