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.
Group 11 hosts the Czech Republic progressed to the elite round with a perfect record as an unblemished defensive performance helped them top the section, with Russia qualifying in second.
Aleš Čvančara's men confirmed top spot with a final-day 3-0 success against Denmark, with Patrik Schick – as he did in the home side's first two games – putting his side ahead. Lukáš Sadílek doubled the advantage, before Schick got his second of the day, and fourth of the qualifying group, to secure progress. Denmark's defeat left the door open for Russia to secure second spot, which they duly did by defeating Montenegro 3-0. Ayaz Guliev put Dmitri Khomukha's troops ahead before the break, with Nikita Chernov and Maksim Mayrovich rounding off the scoring in the second half.
The Czech Republic and Denmark were the early pacesetters as both registered 3-0 wins on the opening day. In a rematch of the 2006 final, won by Russia on penalties, the Czech Republic went ahead through Schick in the first minute before Aleš Matějů and substitute Václav Černý made sure of the points late on. As for Denmark, they overcame Montenegro, Andreas Christensen and Mads Raben finding the target before the break and Mathias Andersen adding a third.
Montenegro then fell 2-0 to the Czech Republic, Schick and Petr Galuška getting goals in the last four minutes of the first half. For their part, Russia recovered from their opening loss by overcoming Denmark 2-1. Ramil Sheydaev struck on four minutes and Chernov added a second after the break. Denis Yakuba was dismissed for Russia 11 minutes from time but Denmark only pulled one back just before the whistle thanks to Asger Sørensen, and Russia's win on the last day ended Denmark's hopes of progress.
"The good results should not hide that we played against three very strong opponents," said Čvančara. "I am glad we played active, attacking football which led to success. I must not only praise the goalkeeper Jindřich Staněk, who did not concede, and Schick, but all the team for their will to win in all three games."
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