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Ten to watch from U17 EURO in Azerbaijan

Published: Monday 23 May 2016, 12.01CET
UEFA.com's reporters at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship have selected ten players who caught the eye during the 16-day extravaganza in Azerbaijan.
by Wayne Harrison & Eugene Ravdin
from Baku
Ten to watch from U17 EURO in Azerbaijan
José Gomes' goals for Portugal earned him the adulation of local supporters ©Sportsfile

Road to the final

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.

Qualifying round
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.

Elite round
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.

Final tournament
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.

 

Published: Monday 23 May 2016, 12.01CET

Ten to watch from U17 EURO in Azerbaijan

UEFA.com's reporters at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship have selected ten players who caught the eye during the 16-day extravaganza in Azerbaijan.

Mile Svilar (goalkeeper, Belgium)
The son of former Yugoslavia shot-stopper Ratko Svilar is a commanding figure between the posts. Not 17 until late August, the Anderlecht player kept two clean sheets in four games in Baku and has already featured in two UEFA Youth League semi-finals.

©Sportsfile

Dujon Sterling (left) celebrates an England goal

Dujon Sterling (right-back, England)
Sterling was a powerhouse down England's right with his thrusting runs. The defender set up two of Reiss Nelson's three goals and, physically and technically, appears ready for a taste of first-team action. With fellow UEFA Youth League winners Jake Clarke-Salter, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham having made their senior Chelsea debuts in the last two months, could Sterling, 16, get his chance next season?

Diogo Leite (centre-back, Portugal)
One of four Diogos in the winners' back five who play for Porto, keeper included, Leite just gets the nod over club-mate and Portugal captain Queirós. Classy and assured in possession when playing out from the back, like his partner, Leite was often sought out from set pieces. He was integral to Hélio Sousa's team conceding only one goal in six matches.

©Sportsfile

Diogo Dalot after scoring against Spain in the final

Matthijs de Ligt (centre-back, Netherlands)
De Ligt did not miss a minute of the Netherlands' campaign, helping the Oranje keep three clean sheets in succession until they met Portugal in the semi-finals. The Ajax defender was a threat at dead balls, as demonstrated when his header, from Leandro Fernandes' corner, was turned in by Tahith Chong for the only goal against Sweden.

Diogo Dalot (right-back, Portugal)
Dalot and left-back Rúben Vinagre spent just as much time in the opposition's half as they did their own such was the extent of Portugal's superiority. The Porto player really came into his own in the latter stages of the 16-team tournament, doubling Portugal's advantage against the Dutch and opening the scoring in the final with a sweet first-time shot.

Fran García's individual goal in the quarter-finals

Atakan Akkaynak (midfielder, Germany)
The Bayer Leverkusen teen oozes class. An authoritative presence in front of the back four, Akkaynak has a knack of making the game look very simple. Suspended for Germany's tournament opener, the deep-lying midfielder contributed two goals on his return, against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Austria.

Francisco García (left-winger, Spain)
How the Real Madrid tyro took his chance when he was eventually given some significant playing time. On the pitch for just four minutes of Spain's first two group games, García came off the bench for the second half versus Italy on matchday three and increased La Roja's lead with a fine swivel and shot. Better was to come – his individual effort three days later, when he dribbled past four England players before calmly beating the keeper, was arguably the goal of the championship.

©AFFA

Abel Ruiz (left) on the ball in Spain's draw against Serbia

José Gomes (forward, Portugal)
UEFA Youth League observers will have known all about Zé Golo's capabilities. The Guinea Bissau-born Benfica striker reaffirmed them in Baku, registering seven goals, including a hat-trick against Austria, in overtaking Paco Alcácer as the competition's all-time leading scorer. Whenever his team-mates put the ball in the box, Gomes was usually on the end of it – that five of his goals were headers illustrates the height of his penalty-box prowess.

Abel Ruiz (forward, Spain)
The youngest player in the Spain squad, Ruiz was the spearhead in the Santi Denia's 4-2-3-1 formation. The industrious Barcelona attacker found the net in each group fixture, following those three strikes up with the game-changing equaliser during the comeback victory over Germany in the semi-finals.

Renat Dadashov (forward, Germany)
The burly No9 was a popular figure in the land of his parents' birth. The local favourite took a while to get going, the first of his three goals not coming until added time of Germany's concluding group match. It spurred him on to greater things, though, most notably a blistering top-corner strike past Svilar in the quarter-finals and a tap-in against Spain a day after he turned 17.

©Sportsfile

Last updated: 23/05/16 17.37CET

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