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Croatia vs England: Under-21 EURO background, form guide, previous meetings

For the second final tournament running, Croatia take on England in the third and final round of group games.

Croatia and England ahead of their 2019 meeting
Croatia and England ahead of their 2019 meeting Getty Images

For the second UEFA European Under-21 Championship running, Croatia take on England in the third and final round of group games.

• While England are unbeaten in competitive matches against their opponents ahead of their final Group D fixture at Koper-Capodistria's Stadion Bonifika, Croatia have had the better of their friendlies – although it was honours even in the 2019 finals.

• Croatia are also better placed in the section thanks to a 3-2 win against Switzerland last time out, goals from Luka Ivanušec (8), Nikola Moro (61 pen) and Dario Vizinger (64) earning a first finals victory despite two late Swiss goals, the second an 89th-minute Sandro Kulenović own goal. That left Croatia, who went down 1-0 to Portugal in their opening fixture, level with Switzerland on three points, three behind the Portuguese, meaning they will reach the knockout rounds for the first time if they beat England unless Switzerland beat Portugal by a one-goal margin other than 1-0 or 2-1. Croatia also go through if both games are drawn, or if they lose by a one-goal margin and Switzerland also lose. Croatia win the group if they beat England and Switzerland beat Portugal 1-0.

• England are bottom of the section having lost to Switzerland (0-1) and Portugal (0-2) and need to beat Croatia by two goals or more and for Switzerland lose in order to go through.

2019 highlights: Croatia 3-3 England

Previous meetings
• The teams also met in the third round of group games in Italy two years ago, when both had already been eliminated having lost their first two Group C matches. Croatia came from behind three times to earn a share of the spoils, goals from Josip Brekalo (39, 82) and Nikola Vlašić (62) cancelling out strikes by Reiss Nelson (11 pen), James Maddison (48) and Jonjo Kenny (70).

• Moro, Lovro Majer and Kulenović all started for Croatia with Luka Ivanušec a second-half substitute and Kristijan Bistrović and Adrian Šemper unused replacements. Lloyd Kelly played the 90 minutes for England.

• That meant England finished third in the section, above Croatia on goal difference.

• England won the two previous competitive matches between the sides 2-1, those games coming in the play-offs for the 2015 final tournament. Harry Kane was on target in the first in Wolverhampton as the home side came from behind to win on 10 October 2014; four days later, Will Hughes got England's winner in Vinkovci, Croatia bowing out despite Marko Livaja finding the net in each game.

• Croatia have won both friendlies between the sides, 3-0 in London in August 2003 – Goran Ljubojević scoring twice – and 1-0 in April 1996.

• Rhian Brewster scored a hat-trick in England's 5-0 win against Croatia in an Under-17 friendly at the Stadion Aldo Drosina in Pula on 28 September 2016. Callum Hudson-Odoi was a second-half substitute for Aidy Boothroyd's side, while Bartol Franjić featured for Croatia.

• Moro's goal was not enough to prevent Croatia suffering a 2-1 group stage defeat against England at the 2016 European U19 Championship group stage; Ivanušec was also on the losing side.

Highlights: Croatia 3-2 Switzerland (2 mins)

Form guide
• All three of Croatia's U21 EURO final appearances have ended in the group stage. In 2019, they finished bottom of Group C behind Romania, France (both seven points) and England (1). Nenad Gračan's side lost to Romania (1-4) and France (0-1) before that 3-3 draw against England.

• That 2019 appearance ended Croatia's 15-year wait to feature in the final tournament; the previous appearance had come 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.

• Croatia's record in the finals group stage is now W1 D3 L7 F14 A22.

• In qualifying for the 2021 tournament, Igor Bišćan's side finished second in Group 4 a point behind the Czech Republic, taking 20 points from their ten games (W6 D2 L2). Croatia were unbeaten in their last six qualifiers (W4 D2), a 10-0 defeat of San Marino in Zagreb on 8 October 2020 the team's biggest ever victory.

Highlights: Portugal 2-0 England (2 mins)

• 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 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 18 group games at the finals (D5 L10) and none of the last five (D1 L4).

• In qualifying for these finals 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.

Links and trivia
• Croatia coach Bišćan, who replaced Nenad Gračan on 1 October 2019, played for Liverpool from 2000 to 2005, scoring three goals in 117 appearances in all competitions. He was part of the side that won the FA Cup and English League Cup in 2000/01, the UEFA Super Cup the same year and, in 2004/05, the UEFA Champions League, making nine appearances in the latter campaign.