The UEFA European Under-17 Championship consists of three distinct stages: the qualifying round, the elite round and the final tournament. The format changed for 2014/15 with the expansion of the final tournament from eight to 16 teams.
The qualifying round, played in autumn, is made up of 13 groups of four countries playing in one-venue mini-tournaments. The top two from each pool progress alongside the four third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their groups.
In the elite round, held in early spring, those 30 qualifiers plus the top two seeds – given a bye this far – compete in eight mini-tournament groups of four. The group winners and seven runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their section advance to the finals to join the hosts.
In the final tournament the contenders are split into four groups of four, with the front two from each proceeding to the knockout phase.
Further details, including the criteria for separating sides that finish level on points in a group, or after 80 minutes in a match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
Holders France and fellow two-time winners Spain, England and the Netherlands are among the 32 teams competing for 15 UEFA European Under-17 Championship final tournament places alongside hosts Azerbaijan when the elite round begins on Friday.
Elite round groups
Group 1 (28 March-2 April): Czech Republic*, Denmark, Switzerland, Scotland
Group 2 (24-29 March): England*, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland
Group 3 (15-20 March): Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Georgia*
Group 4 (24-29 March): Germany*, Netherlands, Slovakia, Bulgaria
Group 5 (16-21 March): Portugal, Croatia*, Sweden, Wales
Group 6 (29 March-3 April): France* (holders), Austria, Greece, Iceland
Group 7 (28 March-2 April): Republic of Ireland, Poland*, Serbia, Montenegro
Group 8 (11-16 March): Spain, Belgium*, Israel, Slovenia
• The eight group winners and the seven runners-up with the best records against the teams first and third in their section will join hosts Azerbaijan in the finals draw on 8 April, with the matches from 5 to 21 May.
• Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Wales all hope to join Azerbaijan in making U17 final tournament debuts.
• France beat Greece 1-0 in their last group game to reach the 2015 quarter-finals on their way to the title.
• The five teams that went through from third place in their qualifying round groups were able to play sides from their sections in that stage: Iceland drew 1-1 with Greece in their group and Slovenia were beaten 2-1 by Belgium.
• Germany, who received a bye to this round as top seeds, have played the Netherlands in three finals. Germany won in 2009 but the Netherlands triumphed in 2011 and 2012.
• Last month, Germany won the prestigious Algarve tournament, beating the Netherlands 1-0 and Portugal 5-0 either side of a 1-1 draw with England. the Netherlands drew 1-1 with Portugal and beat England 2-0 to finish second.
• Portugal boast qualifying round top scorer João Filipe of Benfica.
• Russia defeated Italy on penalties in the 2013 final.
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