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Under-21 EURO Matchday 1 preview: what to look out for

We preview Thursday's opening group games in Hungary and Slovenia.

Randal Kolo Muani is part of a strong France squad
Randal Kolo Muani is part of a strong France squad Getty Images

The first 16-team UEFA European Under-21 Championship continues on Thursday as Groups C and D begin.

Groups A and B started on Wednesday and continue on Saturday. The top two in each section progress to the knockout phase, starting 31 May.

Where to watch the games

Group C

Russia vs Iceland (Győr, 18:00 CET)
Russia end an eight-year absence from these finals with a team full of Premier Liga experience as well as 17-year-old Arsen Zakharyan, a late call-up after some fine Dynamo Moskva displays. Iceland make their second U21 finals appearance ten years on from their first, in Denmark in 2011, with Davíd Snorri Jónasson in charge following Arnar Thór Vidarsson's senior promotion.

Classic France U21 goals
Classic France U21 goals

France vs Denmark (Szombathely, 21:00 CET)
France suffered a late blow with the withdrawal of Houssem Aouar and Moussa Diaby, yet with Alban Lafont in goal, Ibrahima Konaté and Joules Koundé in defence, Matteo Guendouzi in midfield and Odsonne Édouard up front, possess a superb squad. Denmark, under ex-Barcelona academy coach Albert Capellas, also have plenty of talent though some key men are with the seniors this week.

Group D

England 0-1 Switzerland (Koper-Capodistria, 15:00 CET)

2021 Under-21 EURO: The host cities
2021 Under-21 EURO: The host cities

Portugal vs Croatia (Koper-Capodistria, 21:00 CET)
Portugal had a great qualifying tussle with the Netherlands and, like the Dutch, are among the pre-tournament favourites. Rui Jorge marks ten years in charge and boasts an exciting squad, many of whom – Gedson Fernandes included – have shone at past UEFA youth events. Watch out for Croatia's Luka Ivanušec and Lovro Majer, two senior internationals who figured in Dinamo's incredible recent comeback against Tottenham.

Wednesday results:

Group A

Hungary 0-3 Germany (Szekesfehervar)
Romania 1-1 Netherlands (Budapest)

Group B

Czech Republic 1-1 Italy (Celje)
Slovenia 0-3 Spain (Maribor)