Spain v France facts

Spain are a familiar presence in the U21 semi-finals, while France have not featured in the last four since 2006.

Spain's Borja Mayoral (left) up against France centre-back Dayot Upamecano in an U21 friendly in November 2018
Spain's Borja Mayoral (left) up against France centre-back Dayot Upamecano in an U21 friendly in November 2018 ©Getty Images

While Spain have been regular participants in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals in recent years, France are in the last four for the first time since 2006.

• Four-time champions Spain recovered from an opening 3-1 defeat by Italy to finish top of Group A on three-way head-to-head records thanks to wins against Belgium (2-1) and Poland (5-0). France won their opening two matches, defeating England 2-1 and Croatia 1-0, but had to settle for second place in Group C, and a place in the semi-finals as the best runners-up overall, after a goalless draw against section winners Romania on matchday three.

Mikel Oyarzabal celebrates after scoring for Spain against France in November
Mikel Oyarzabal celebrates after scoring for Spain against France in November©Getty Images

Previous meetings
• This is the sides' eighth European U21 Championship meeting – and a first in almost 18 years – with Spain having won four of the previous seven to France's single victory. That sole French success did come in the most recent fixture, however, a 3-0 triumph in Brest in September 2001 with Djibril Cissé opening the scoring.

• The game in Spain, in March 2001, had ended 1-1. France went on to reach the 2002 final tournament, eventually finishing runners-up to the Czech Republic; Spain failed to qualify.

• Spain had come out on top in the 1994 third-place play-off between the sides, Óscar García scoring both goals in a 2-1 win after Pascal Nouma had put France in front.

• That result continued Spain's fine form in matches against France. They had recorded a win (1-0 away) and a draw (0-0 home) in qualifying for the 1992 finals and won 3-1 both away and home in the 1986 quarter-finals as they went on to lift the trophy for the first time, Txiki Begiristain scoring in both legs.

• Recent friendlies between the sides have proved more even, Spain winning 2-0 in Benidorm in February 2008 before a 3-2 France success in Reims in March 2011. A friendly in Caen last autumn ended in a 1-1 draw, Mikel Oyarzabal's penalty giving the visitors a tenth-minute lead after Moussa Niakhate had fouled Alfonso Pedraza. Jean-Philippe Mateta was set up by Dayot Upamecano for a 79th-minute equaliser.

Jean-Philippe Mateta after earning France a friendly draw against Spain in November
Jean-Philippe Mateta after earning France a friendly draw against Spain in November©Getty Images

• The teams at the Stade Michel-D'Ornano on 19 November 2018 were:
France: Bernardoni, Ballo-Touré, Niakhate, Upamecano, Mukiele (Amian 78), Tousart, Sissoko (Guendouzi 63), Reine-Adélaïde (Ikoné 72), Terrier (Mateta 63), Saint-Maximin (Coco 79), Bamba.
Spain: Unai Simón, Jorge Meré, Angeliño (Rafa Mir 76), Unai Núñez, Palencia, Jorge Sáenz, Fabián Ruiz (J Pozo 90), Oyarzabal (Cheikh Diop 77), Pedraza (Olmo 62), Soler (Fernández 90), Mayoral (Aarón Martín 78).

• Malang Sarr was in the France side that beat Spain 4-2 in the European U19 Championship elite round on 27 March 2018.

• Lucas Tousart, Moussa Dembélé and Marcus Thuram were all second-half substitutes in the France side that lost 2-0 to Spain in the 2015 U19 EURO semi-final. Antonio Sivera, Aarón Martín, Jorge Meré, Jesús Vallejo, Mikel Merino, Dani Ceballos, Borja Mayoral and Pedraza were in the Spain line-up.

• Jonathan Ikoné set up France's equaliser in a 1-1 U17 elite round draw against Spain in March 2015; Upamecano also featured for France with Dani Olmo in the Spanish side. Jeff Reine-Adélaïde was an unused France replacement.

• Olivier Ntcham and Dembélé were second-half substitutes as France beat Spain 3-2 in a U17 elite round game in March 2013.

Highlights: Spain 5-0 Poland
Highlights: Spain 5-0 Poland

Form guide
Spain
• Spain are in the semi-finals for the ninth time – and the fourth in the last five editions of the competition. Their record is W7 L1, with victories in the last five:
1984 Yugoslavia W 3-0 aggregate (1-0 away, 2-0 home)
1986 Hungary W 5-4 aggregate (1-3 away, 4-1 aet home)
1994 Portugal L 0-2
1996 Scotland W 2-1
1998 Norway W 1-0 (aet)
2011 Belarus W 3-1 (aet)
2013 Norway W 3-0
2017 Italy W 3-1

• This is Spain's seventh appearance in the U21 final tournament since 1998, and a fifth in the competition's last six editions. They have only failed to get past the group stage once in those seven participations, in 2009, and have reached the final in each of their last three, lifting the trophy in 2011 and 2013.

• Spain were also champions in 1986, and runners-up in 1984 and 1996.

• This time Spain qualified by finishing top of Group 2, winning nine of their ten qualifying fixtures with 31 goals scored and ten conceded.

Ceballos delight after Spain reach last four
Ceballos delight after Spain reach last four

• Defeat by Germany in the 2017 final ended Spain's ten-match unbeaten run in competitive U21 matches (W7 D3); the opening loss to Italy at these finals was only their third in their last 24 European U21 Championship games (W18 D3), the other in qualification at home to Northern Ireland on 11 September 2018 (1-2).

• Spain have won 16 of their last 19 matches at the final tournament (D1 L2); the matchday one defeat by Italy was their first in the group stage since a 2-0 reverse to England on 18 June 2009.

• The 5-0 defeat of Poland on matchday three equalled Spain's biggest win in the U21 final tournament, and was the fourth time in their last ten matches, qualifying included, they had scored five or more goals.

• Coach Luis de la Fuente, who succeeded Albert Celades in July 2018, led Spain to the 2015 UEFA European Under-19 Championship title in Greece with a squad including Sivera, Simón, Meré, Merino, Pedraza, Ceballos and Mayoral.

Highlights: France 0-0 Romania
Highlights: France 0-0 Romania

France
• This is France's sixth U21 semi-final, with their record W2 L3:
1988 England W 6-4 aggregate (4-2 home, 2-2 away)
1994 Italy L 0-0 (3-5 pens)
1996 Italy L 0-1
2002 Switzerland W 2-0
2006 Netherlands L 2-3 (aet)

• That 2006 defeat by eventual champions the Netherlands was France's most recent appearance in the final tournament before 2019. This is just their third appearance in an eight or 12-team finals; they finished as runners-up on the other occasion, in 2002.

• Champions in 1988, France finished third in 1996 and fourth two years earlier, also reaching the quarter-finals in 1982, 1984 and 1986.

• Since reaching the 2006 finals, four of France's six U21 campaigns have ended in the play-offs – in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2015. They finished second behind North Macedonia in their 2017 qualifying section.

France left with 'great feeling' at securing last-four spot
France left with 'great feeling' at securing last-four spot

• This time round, Sylvain Ripoll's team won their first nine fixtures, drawing the last 1-1 at home to Slovenia, to win qualifying Group 9 by 12 points. They qualified with two games to spare, their final tally of 28 points the highest recorded by any team.

• The draw with Slovenia ended France's 11-match winning run in competitive internationals, going back to a 1-0 loss in Ukraine in September 2016. That is France's sole defeat in their last 22 European U21 Championship matches (W17 D4).

• The matchday three 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 at this tournament.

• Upamecano, Reine-Adélaïde and Ikoné were all in the France squad that won 2015 U17 EURO.

• Paul Bernardoni, Tousart and Thuram were all members of France's 2016 European U19 Championship-winning squad, Tousart scoring in the 4-0 final victory against Italy.

Under-21 rewind: Thiago stuns Switzerland in 2011 final
Under-21 rewind: Thiago stuns Switzerland in 2011 final

Links and trivia
• By reaching the semi-finals, France have qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games – their 13th appearance in the tournament, and the first since 1996. They were gold medalists in 1984.

• Spain will be appearing in their 11th Olympics next summer; they won the gold medal at the Barcelona Games in 1992.

• Aarón Martín has been a Mainz team-mate of Mateta and Niakhate since August 2018.

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