Spain emphasised their impressive stature in youth football in 1998/99 by lifting the UEFA European Under-16 Championship for the fifth time, playing some scintillating football in the process.
Juan Santisteban's side won all eight of their games over the course of the season, including emphatic victories in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final itself. The Spanish did not begin the final tournament in the Czech Republic in particularly expansive style, but they did score six goals without reply in defeating Croatia, Russia and Poland to claim first place in Group C. They were joined in the last eight by the Poles, who edged out Russia by a point for the runners-up berth.
In Group A, Portugal remained unbeaten to progress in first place one point ahead of Israel, as Switzerland and Finland bowed out. England and Slovakia won through from Group B, comfortably holding off the challenge of Sweden and Hungary, while Germany and the Czechs finished level at the top of Group D with six points each, three more than Greece and Denmark.
The quarter-final ties were contrasting affairs, Poland and the Czech Republic edging out Portugal and England 2-1 and 1-0 respectively, while Spain defeated Israel 5-1 and Jürgen Schmid's hat-trick helped Germany to a 6-0 success against Slovakia. It was a different story in the final four, however, Mikel Arteta scoring twice as Spain turned the tables on Germany with a 4-0 victory to earn a final meeting with Poland, who had survived a late Czech fightback to win their semi-final 3-2.
There was some consolation for Germany as they defeated the Czechs 2-1 to take third place and a FIFA U-17 World Championship slot. In the final, Spain struck first through Jorge Perona and, although Rafal Grzelak quickly levelled, further strikes in the second half from Pedro Álvarez, Ernesto Gomez and Elías Molina ensured the trophy returned to Spain after an absence of a single season. Perona also took the scoring plaudits, finding the net nine times over the course of the whole competition. In New Zealand for the world event, Germany, Poland and Spain all fell in the group stage; Brazil retained the cup.
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