Both teams have historical reasons for optimism as Slovakia and England meet in the second round of Group A games.
• This is the sides' fourth meeting, and their first since 2003. England picked up away and home victories in qualifying for the 2004 finals, Francis Jeffers scoring twice and Shola Ameobi and Joe Cole once each in a 4-0 win in Trnava on 11 October 2002.
• Back in England on 10 June 2003, an own goal by Peter Doležaj (40) and Phil Jagielka's 83rd-minute strike gave England a 2-0 triumph at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.
• Hosts Slovakia, however, came out on top in the countries' sole previous final-tournament encounter as second-half goals from Peter Babnič (67) and Szilárd Németh (74) earned a 2-0 success at the Štadión Pasienky in Bratislava.
• Slovakia won six of their eight qualifiers and suffered just one defeat to finish five points clear of the Netherlands at the qualifying Group 8 summit. Adam Zreľák finished as their five-goal top scorer, with one more than Martin Chrien.
• Slovakia's single previous U21 final appearance came in 2000, when they came fourth on home soil. A team featuring Kamil Čontofalský, Vratislav Greško, Radoslav Zabavník, Marek Mintál, Szilárd Németh, Karol Kisel, Peter Hlinka and Martin Petráš beat Turkey and England in the group stage to earn second spot in their section and, with no semi-finals, progressed to a third-place play-off where they lost 1-0 to Spain.
• Czechoslovakia reached the U21 quarter-finals on six occasions, but never went any further in the competition.
• England are contesting these finals for the sixth successive edition, although in each of the last three tournaments they failed to survive the group stage. Champions in 1982 and 1984, they got to the final under Stuart Pearce in 2009 – falling to Germany – and they have been semi-finalists on a further five occasions, most recently 2007.
• This time, England posted six victories and two draws to finish four points clear at the top of Group 9 – one of six teams to qualify unbeaten. They won all four home games with a goal difference of 17-2, but managed just three goals in four away fixtures – albeit winning two of those and drawing the others. Their three goals against was the joint lowest in qualifying, along with Denmark and Italy.
Coach and player links
• Marek Rodák signed for Fulham in 2013, spending 2016/17 on loan at Accrington Stanley. His Fulham team-mates include Cauley Woodrow.
• Ľubomír Šatka has been at Newcastle United since 2012, while Albert Rusnák was a Manchester City player from 2010–14.
Pavel Hapal, Slovakia
A left-sided midfielder whose attacking instincts made him a regular goalscorer, Hapal spent six years at Sigma Olomouc across four spells, helping them reach the 1991/92 UEFA Cup quarter-finals before moving to Germany and Bayer Leverkusen. He also had a Spanish sojourn with Tenerife and represented both Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic internationally, breaking his leg a month before EURO '96.
Having retired aged 32 in 2002, he quickly went into coaching, gaining experience in his Czech homeland and Poland and enjoying success with three Slovak clubs – Nitra, Senica and most notably Žilina, whom Hapal guided to the league title in 2010 and the UEFA Champions League group stage the following seasons. A coach whose sides are built on teamwork and fighting spirit, he took over the Slovakia U21s in January 2015.
Aidy Bothroyd, England
A lower-league defender whose longest association was with Mansfield Town, Boothroyd began coaching in 1998 with the youth teams at Peterborough. Stints in the youth ranks at Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion followed before he stepped up to become first-team coach at Leeds United in 2004.
Boothroyd's first managerial role arrived a year later, when he took charge at Watford aged 34. He steered the Hornets into the Premier League in his first full season, 2005/06, but left in 2008 with the club back in the Championship. He added Colchester United, Coventry City and, from 2011–13, Northampton Town to his management CV before joining England's youth set-up in February 2014. Boothroyd was handed the U21 reins in October 2016 following Gareth Southgate's appointment to the senior job.
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