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.
Steffen Freund and Thomas Frank were in agreement that minor details proved the difference after Germany defeated Denmark 2-0 to reach the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final. Depleted by the absence of four suspended players, Germany prevailed courtesy of Kaan Ayhan's deflected free-kick and Nils Quaschner's unwitting finish in Novi Sad. That result left Freund praising his team's response to adversity, while a despondent but proud Frank was forced to look ahead to the start of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico next month.
Steffen Freund, Germany coach
I am happy but now is the time to say well done to Denmark – fantastic first half.
Denmark played fantastic football, it was really difficult for my team. All the players from Denmark played good football – one, two touch. They couldn't create a lot of chances and at half-time I wasn't sure my team could turn the game because Denmark were so strong.
Second half we scored the first goal and when you have two good teams maybe that's the difference. It was possible for us to go out and that's why I compliment Thomas and his team. A few players from Denmark can play in my team! We've been the lucky team today. Luck is important in football.
It's great to have 19 players, not only 11. I was always sure we could beat Denmark. When you have difficult situations you have to stand up and try your best. I always said to players: 'Give all the suspended players another chance and win the game against Denmark'. We've been prepared for a really difficult situation. The Danish got nine points and deserved to be confident, but when you're 1-0 down it's difficult.
Thomas Frank, Denmark coach
There are two sides to the story.
On one side I am so extremely disappointed, on the other side we have to be so proud to be Danish today. We were the best team on the pitch and we dominated the game. Normally it's the other way around when Denmark play Germany. I'm so proud of the match and of the players but when you are in the semi-finals, small, small things can determine the end result.
We didn't have the small things going our way. No offence but I think we have been the best team in the tournament but good luck to Germany in the final. We lost 2-1 one year ago to this year group and they now have 11 other players – they have strong players in Germany. If we were to be in the final it should have been today. They had five of their top players out – especially their top scorer – we had momentum and had hit a high level. So it should have been now.
We're going to win [the World Cup] I think! Of course I think we have a good chance. This gives us a lot of confidence. I'm sure we don't have to fear anybody.
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