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Netherlands vs France: Under-21 EURO background, form guide, previous meetings

The Netherlands are in the knockout stage for the first time in eight years as they prepare to take on a France side bidding to reach a second straight semi-final.

LOSC Lille's Sven Botman will meet some familiar faces when the Netherlands play France
LOSC Lille's Sven Botman will meet some familiar faces when the Netherlands play France UEFA via Getty Images

Group A winners the Netherlands, who are in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship knockout stage for the first time in eight years, take on Group C runners-up France, who are bidding to reach a second straight semi-final.

• The sides have three U21 EURO titles between them, but have featured infrequently in the finals in recent years ahead of their meeting at Budapest's Új Bozsik Stadion.

• The winners of this tie will face Denmark or Germany in the semi-final on 3 June in Szekésfehérvár.

U21 EURO group stage Skills Showcase

Previous meetings
• The sides have met in only one previous UEFA European Under-21 Championship fixture, in the 2006 semi-finals in Braga. Goals from Nicky Hofs (6) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (38) gave the Dutch the half-time advantage, but France hit back through Julien Faubert (51) and Bryan Bergougnoux (85) to force extra time, only for Hofs to score a 107th-minute winner. The Netherlands went on to beat Ukraine 3-0 in the final to claim their first title.

• The most recent of the countries' six friendly meetings came in March 2015, when Anthony Martial scored twice and Yassine Benzia and Corentin Tolisso once each in a 4-1 home victory for France in Sedan; Queensy Menig got the visitors' only reply.

• That made France's overall record against the Netherlands W4 D2 L1 – the only defeat coming in that sole previous competitive meeting in 2006.

• Amine Gouiri scored in France's 2-1 U20 friendly win against the Netherlands at Clairefontaine in November 2019. Aurélien Tchouaméni was also in the home line-up while Jordan Teze and Sven Botman both started for the Netherlands, whose goal came from substitute Jurgen Ekkelenkamp.

• Justin Bijlow, Dani de Wit, Javairô Dilrosun, plus substitute Justin Kluivert were all in the Netherlands side that played out a 1-1 U19 friendly draw against France in November 2016; Faitout Maouassa, Odsonne Édouard and substitute Jonathan Ikoné featured for the visitors in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Form guide

Every Netherlands goal so far

• The Dutch have missed out on the last three U21 EURO final tournaments; this is their first appearance since losing to Italy in the 2013 semi-finals.

• Champions in Portugal in 2006 and again on home soil 12 months later, this is the Netherlands' sixth appearance in an eight or 12-team final tournament. They also reached the two-legged semi-finals in 1988.

• In the qualifying tournament for the 2019 finals, a team coached by Erwin van de Looi – who has been in charge since May 2018 – finished second behind England in their section.

• This time round, Van de Looi oversaw a near immaculate qualifying campaign, the Dutch finishing as top scorers overall with 46 goals – nine more than any other side – and winning nine of their ten fixtures. A 2-1 defeat by Portugal in their final encounter was not enough to prevent them finishing first in Group 7, above their opponents on head-to-head record.

U21 EURO Top Performer: Cody Gakpo

• In the group stage, the Dutch finished top of Group A in a three-way head-to-head with Germany and eliminated Romania. They drew their first two games 1-1, against Romania and Germany, before a 6-1 victory against co-hosts Hungary sealed progress. The Netherlands' eight group goals were scored by seven different players, with only Cody Gakpo on target twice.

• This is the Netherlands' fourth U21 quarter-final; their record is W2 L1. They were victorious in the most recent, beating Romania 2-1 in 1998, and defeated Spain at the same stage a decade earlier (1-0 a, 2-1 h aet) but lost to Sweden on away goals in 1992 (2-1 h, 0-1 a).

• Champions in 1988, France finished third in 1996 and fourth two years earlier, and were semi-finalists in 2019. They also reached the quarter-finals in 1982, 1984 and 1986.

• France are in the finals for the second successive edition, and are making their fourth appearance overall in an eight or 12-team finals. They have never failed to qualify from their group. In 2019, they featured at a U21 EURO for the first time in 13 years; they finished as runners-up in 2002, losing the final on penalties to the Czech Republic, and were beaten by the Netherlands, 3-2 after extra time, in the last four in 2006.

Every France goal so far

• Two years ago in Italy, Sylvain Ripoll's team finished second in Group C on seven points, level with Romania but behind on head-to-head record. They beat England (2-1) and Croatia (1-0) before a goalless draw against Romania on Matchday 3; eventual champions Spain proved too strong in the semi-finals, coming from behind to run out 4-1 victors in Reggio Emilia.

• That 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 in 2019. A 1-0 defeat by Denmark on Matchday 1 of these finals was therefore their first group stage defeat.

• Ripoll, who has been in charge since 2017, guided Les Bleuets to these finals as winners of qualifying Group 2, his side picking up 27 points from their ten games to edge out fellow finalists Switzerland for first place after the teams had finished level. France's sole defeat was a 3-1 reverse to the Swiss, who they beat by the same scoreline in their final qualifier to claim first place on goal difference.

• Édouard's 11 goals in qualifying, which included penalties in four successive matches, made him the second top scorer overall, behind only Eddie Nketiah of England (13 goals).

• France have lost only four of their last 36 European U21 Championship matches (W28 D4).

• France were runners-up to Denmark in Group C, recovering from an opening 1-0 loss to the Scandinavian side with 2-0 victories against both Russia and Iceland, Édouard finding the net in both games.

• France's quarter-final record is W3 L3. They lost their first three ties, the last of them against Spain in 1986 (1-3 h, 1-3 a), but have won the last three. Their most recent quarter-final, in 1996, ended in victory against Germany (0-0 a, 4-1 h).

Skill of the Day: Alexis Claude-Maurice

Links and trivia
• Have played in France:
Mitchel Bakker (Paris Saint-Germain 2019–)
Sven Botman (LOSC Lille 2020–)
Kaj Sierhuis (Reims 2020–)

• Have played together:
Mitchel Bakker & Colin Dagba (Paris Saint-Germain 2019–)
Sven Botman & Boubakary Soumaré, Jonathan Ikoné (LOSC Lille 2020–)
Justin Kluivert & Ibrahima Konaté, Dayot Upamecano (Leipzig 2020–)

• Brian Brobbey scored in Ajax's 2-1 win at LOSC Lille, with Soumaré and substitute Ikoné featuring for the French club, in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg on 18 February.

• Kluivert was a late substitute as Leipzig beat Paris 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 4 November.