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.
UEFA European Under-17 Championship holders the Netherlands could face three former winners in the elite round after the seedings were announced for the draw, to be streamed live on UEFA.com from Nyon at 11.00CET on Wednesday.
Following the qualifying round, which ended earlier this month, 28 teams have progressed to compete in the second stage next spring. They have been split into four seeding pots according to their coefficient, and having dropped two points in the qualifying round, the Netherlands are in Pot B as they continue their bid for an unprecedented third straight triumph.
Pot A contains the seven sides who secured maximum qualifying round points and includes 2009 winners Germany (whom the Netherlands have beaten in the last two finals) as well as the last team to lift the trophy other than the Dutch, 2010 champions England. In Pot C are the only other two-time victors, Spain, who emerged from the qualifying round as one of the two best third-placed sides, and 2003 winners Portugal. Another pair of nations whose names are on the trophy, France and Russia, are in Pot D alongside Estonia – a country participating at this stage for the first time having gone through with Spain due to their third-place record.
In the draw, to be made by UEFA Youth and Amateur Committee chairman Jim Boyce and the captain of last season's Germany squad, Pascal Itter – who will receive the Fair Play prize on his team's behalf – seven groups will be formed, all consisting of one side apiece from the four seeding pots. No nation may meet opponents they played in the qualifying round.
The hosts will then be selected for each mini-tournament, and only the group winners will progress to join hosts Slovakia in the finals from 5 to 17 May. The top six teams in the tournament will advance to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates from 17 October to 8 November.
Elite round draw seedings
Pot A: Germany, Serbia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, England, Norway
Pot B: Ukraine, Switzerland, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Netherlands (holders), Slovenia, Belgium
Pot C: Israel, Italy, Georgia, Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain, Finland
Pot D: Russia, Poland, Belarus, Austria, Northern Ireland, France, Estonia
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