Co-hosts Georgia's first game in the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship pits them against Portugal.
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Co-hosts Georgia's first game in the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship pits them against Portugal at the Paichadze Stadium in Tbilisi.
While Georgia – who are sharing hosting duties with Romania – are making their debut in the final tournament, Portugal are aiming to lift the trophy for the first time having finished as runners-up on three occasions, including in 2021 for the second time in the last four editions.
Belgium and the Netherlands are the other teams in Group A, with all six games to be played in Tbilisi at either the Paichadze Stadium or the Meskhi Stadium.
This is the sides' first competitive U21 meeting.
However, Portugal were 4-1 winners against Georgia in a friendly played at the Estádio Municipal José Santos Pinto in Covilhã on 24 September last year. Paulo Bernardo (15) and Samuel Costa (22) scored in the first half for the home team and, after Giorgi Moistsrapishvili had reduced the Georgia deficit in the 53rd minute, goals in the final half-hour from substitutes Henrique Araújo (62) and Afonso Sousa (76) sealed the win.
Saba Khvadagiani and Otar Mamageishvili were both in the Georgia side that drew 0-0 with Portugal in the U17 EURO qualifying round in Tondela on 16 November 2019.
Portugal beat hosts Georgia 1-0 in Gori on Matchday 1 of the 2017 UEFA European Under-19 Championship group stage and went on to reach the final, losing 2-1 to England, also at Gori's Tengiz Burjanadze Stadium.
This is Georgia's first appearance in the U21 finals; they are the 32nd team to feature since the final tournament was introduced in 1994.
The co-hosts are the only team to be making their debut in the 2023 tournament.
All 14 of Georgia's previous U21 campaigns have ended in the qualifying group stage. Their most successful campaign came in the 1998 preliminaries, when they won three of their eight fixtures, losing only two, and came second behind England in their section, finishing ahead of Italy, Poland and Moldova.
In 2021 qualifying Georgia finished third in Group 2 behind France and Switzerland, winning five of their ten matches but losing the other five.
Although this is Georgia's first U21 appearance, they featured in the U19 finals in 2013 and, as hosts, in 2017, and have also taken part in two U17 tournaments, most recently reaching the semi-finals in 2012.
This is Portugal's tenth appearance in the U21 final tournament; they were runners-up in 1994 to Italy, 2015 to Sweden and 2021 to Germany. They were also third in 2004.
Portugal have now qualified for four of the last five tournaments, reaching two finals in that time – all under long-serving coach Rui Jorge, who was also a runner-up as a player in 1994.
In 2021 Portugal won their first three games to finish six points clear at the top of Group D and subsequently beat Italy (5-3 aet) in the quarter-finals and Spain (1-0) in the semis only to go down 1-0 to Germany in the final.
In charge since 2010, Jorge oversaw a near-faultless qualifying campaign for the 2023 finals, Portugal winning nine of their ten games and drawing the other to finish ten points clear at the top of Group D.
The Portuguese were top scorers in qualifying with 41 goals, conceding only three.
Portugal also boasted the overall top scorer in qualifying, Gonçalo Ramos's 12 goals five more than any other player. He scored four goals in each of the home games against Liechtenstein (11-0) and Cyprus (6-0) and found the net at least once against all five Group D opponents, although he is not in the final tournament squad.
Links and trivia
Giorgi Mamardashvili and André Almeida have been Valencia team-mate since summer 2022.
Portugal coach Rui Jorge was in the Sporting CP side that beat Dinamo Tbilisi 4-0 in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage on their way to the final.