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 five third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their groups.
In the elite round, held in early spring, those 31 qualifiers plus the top seed – 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.
Abel Ruiz and Brahim Díaz scored in the last 16 minutes as Spain recovered from a goal down to reach their sixth UEFA European Under-17 Championship final.
Trailing to a goal by Renat Dadashov a day after his 17th birthday, La Roja took a while to find their rhythm. When Santi Denia's tyros did hit their stride they put their opponents under a period of sustained pressure, Francisco García and Díaz being denied by Jan-Christoph Bartels and Jordi Mboula rattling an upright with a penalty.
They got the reward their second-half dominance warranted, however, equalising when Ruiz turned in substitute Iván Martín's left-wing cross. Diaz settled matters, scoring on the turn after Bartels had denied his strike partner with a point-blank save. Bartels' late red card for bringing down Mboula capped a dramatic turnaround.
A banner was unfurled in one of the stands before kick-off paying homage to Dadashov, whose parents hail from Azerbaijan. The Germany No9 gave his supporters something to shout about after 11 minutes when he tapped in the opener. It all went sour from there, though.
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Deputising for the suspended Florian Baak, Mika Hanraths slotted in at centre-back for his first appearance in this tournament since Germany's 2-2 draw with Ukraine 13 days ago. The Fortuna Düsseldorf defender was performing admirably until he inexplicably conceded the penalty by thrusting out an arm to block a cross from the lively Mboula.
Pot of gold?
For Spain, a place in Saturday's final ultimately lay at the end of the rainbow that appeared overhead before kick-off. The weekend title decider against a seemingly impregnable Portugal team will be the 2007 and 2008 winners' first in this competition since 2010.
Meikel Schönweitz, Germany coach
We wanted to play the same way in the second half as we did in the first, but we didn't have the right grip. [When Mboula missed the penalty] I thought we would win, but they kept coming at us and we couldn't score the second goal which would have changed the game.
Santi Denia, Spain coach
We're obviously very happy to qualify for the final the way we did. I'm happy with the work the lads put in, they did their best and were rewarded with a final berth.
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