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.
Maarten Stekelenburg said the Netherlands will have boosted their confidence by winning 2-0 against England and finishing top of Group A, but Young Lions counterpart John Peacock stood by his decision to make changes and feels his squad could benefit later in the tournament. In the other game in the section, Turkey coach Hakan Tecimer's mind was elsewhere while Malta's Sergio Soldano was rueful but proud.
England 0-2 Netherlands
John Peacock, England manager
Credit to the Dutch because I thought they went about their job very well. They were very good defensively but we were below par. We didn't quite fire on all cylinders like we have done. That said, the first goal was always going to be key and it was a wonder strike. One of the objectives for me is to give players experience of a European finals. All our 18 players have now had a start and I think it's right to do that – I trust them all. We made quite a few changes today but we have to see what they can do.
We are disappointed because we'd have liked to keep the run going, but we've still got a semi-final on Sunday – we know we'll have to play better than today. We played Portugal in England in August and in the Algarve in February, so we know them very well and they know us very well. I think it's probably the best Portuguese team I've seen for quite a few years. It'll bring back memories for me of the 2003 semi-final against them [when England lost on penalties], so let's hope it goes the other way this time.
Maarten Stekelenburg, Netherlands coach
The team played very well. England had a couple of moments when they looked dangerous, and one or two shots from outside the box, but
I was proud of my team. They attacked as a unit and they defended as a unit. [First goalscorer Calvin Verdonk] has a fantastic left foot. You can see that in his passes from the back, when he plays it to the wingers. This was a special goal. We had some chances before that, though, so I think the goal was in line with the game.
Coming top is more a mental thing as it makes you realise what you're capable of. We were a little bit disappointed after the Malta game so we said to each other that this was a match when we needed to build our confidence a bit. Before this game we sat down with the staff – do we give players a rest? do we play our strongest team? – and decided to leave out a couple of players with little knocks. Otherwise everyone was out there.
Turkey 4-0 Malta
Hakan Tecimer, Turkey coach
To be honest, I don't really want to speak about football too much as, because of the tragic mine explosion in Turkey, we are all very sad and had very mixed feelings during today's game. But I will say that taking part in this final tournament has been a very good experience for us and the competition has been very well organised too.
Soldano, Malta coach
This wasn't what we were hoping would happen in our last match, particularly since we put in such a big first-half performance, only to go and give away two stupid goals soon after the break. We seemed to lose momentum at half-time, while Turkey brought on two very tall attackers and started to get the ball into our box more, which is how the first two goals came about.
It's very frustrating to watch your team create loads of good attacking moves and not score and then, in two very similar moves, concede twice. Even so,
I'm pleased the lads never let their heads drop and that, even when four goals down, we were still trying to get on the scoresheet. However, while we need to keep trying to score goals, we can't afford to let our guard down at the back at the same time. Like you saw in our game against the Netherlands, it can be a matter of seconds between us missing a chance and the opposition scoring at the other end.
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