UEFA European Under-17 Championship holders the Netherlands will continue their bid for an unprecedented third straight title by welcoming Norway, Italy and Northern Ireland after the elite round was made.
In the draw made by UEFA Youth and Amateur Committee chairman Jim Boyce and the captain of last season's Germany squad, Pascal Itter, seven groups were formed. Perhaps the toughest section is Group 1, where former winners Spain and France meet hosts Croatia and Belgium while three other past champions, England, Russia and Portugal, are in Group 6. Estonia, at this stage for the first time, have home team Germany, Ukraine and Bulgaria in their group.
Only the group winners in March will progress to join hosts Slovakia in the finals from 5 to 17 May 2013, with the draw on 4 April. 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
Group 1 (21-26 March): Croatia*, Belgium, Spain, France
Group 2 (25-30 March): Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Georgia, Austria*
Group 3 (26-31 March): Hungary*, Sweden, Finland, Belarus
Group 4 (26-31 March): Germany*, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Estonia
Group 5 (22-27 March): Czech Republic, Switzerland*, Israel, Poland
Group 6 (23-28 March): England*, Slovenia, Portugal, Russia
Group 7 (21-26 March): Norway, Netherlands (holders)*, Italy, Northern Ireland
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