The UEFA European Under-19 Championship consists of three distinct stages: the qualifying round, the elite round and the final tournament.
The qualifying round, played in autumn, is made up of 13 groups of four teams playing in one-venue mini-tournaments. The top two from each progress alongside the third-placed team with the best record against the top pair in their group.
In the elite round, played in the spring, those 27 qualifiers join the top seed, given a bye, in seven mini-tournament groups of four. The group winners then join the hosts in the finals.
The seven qualifiers plus the hosts are split into two groups of four who play each other once, with the top two progressing to the semi-finals. The winners of those ties contest the final.
Further details, including the criteria for separating teams that finish level on points in a group, or after extra time in a match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
There will be a new name on the UEFA European Under-19 Championship roll of honour this year with none of the four semi-finalists having previously lifted the trophy. Ahead of the last-four ties on Wednesday, the coaches of Portugal, the Netherlands, England and the Czech Republic were united in one belief – while progress so far has been more than satisfactory, the real hard work still lies ahead.
Hélio Sousa, coach
We've got better with each game in this tournament – we've kept growing. We're looking forward to this semi-final; it was our first target and we've been able to achieve it. It will be a great occasion for our players, one they will get to experience only one or two times, maybe, in their youth. We're very happy with what they're doing. Their mentality in every game has been right and they're ready for the next step in this competition.
Maarten Stekelenburg, coach
We're happy with our progress during the tournament. We've become more of a team in every game and we're pleased to be in the semi-final. We're looking forward to the game. Of course, we've followed Portugal, who were the strongest team in their group – that's why they finished top. They're a very competitive team. We've done our homework, we know their strengths and we will be prepared.
Keith Downing, coach
We're gathering momentum. We're very pleased not just with results but the performances. It was a tough group to come out of but we've won three games so we're very pleased with that. It'll be a very tough game; we were very impressed with the Czech Republic against Georgia, they handled a big game and a big, very patriotic crowd very well. We're very impressed with their professionalism and organisation so it'll be a very difficult game, but it's one we look forward to.
Jan Suchopárek, coach
It's a great pleasure for us to be in the semi-finals. We're really looking forward to playing against England – the country that gave birth to football. We have huge respect for them; England proved that they're one of the favourites for this tournament during the group stage. They're very well organised and have great individual players with good skills so it will be a great experience for us to play a huge game like this against opponents of this quality.
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