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.
The Netherlands may have gone toe-to-toe with England in two matches at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, but a penalty shoot-out loss meant they were left as bitterly disappointed runners-up.
After beating England 2-0 in the group stage, a 1-1 draw in the final was followed by an agonising defeat on spot kicks. "That's the way it is," said influential midfielder Jari Schuurman, trying to be philosophical after a tough evening. Meanwhile, Jong Oranje coach Maarten Stekelenburg said that pride would be his predominant feeling, once the initial disappointment has passed.
Maarten Stekelenburg, Netherlands coach
We won all our official games this season and our last game was a draw, and then we lose with penalties – yes, that's hard.
That's tough and disappointing, but I'm proud of my boys. We've done a great job and we had a great season. However sad I am now, I've got to get that feeling back and be proud of them.
I said before the game that these were two great teams. During the season they also showed that they were top class – England and the Netherlands – and today we proved that again with a great game, two great sides.
England were sitting back a little bit and tried to catch us on the counter. That was their strategy and they were good at that in the first half; they had a couple of good opportunities. I had a feeling in the second half there was a period of ten minutes where we lost a little bit of control, but after that we came back strongly and in the end we had two or three big chances where we could have decided the game. However, in the end 1-1 was a fair result.
Jari Schuurman, Netherlands midfielder
Yeah, it was amazingly difficult. It was our tournament. We were the best, but we lost the final and then you go home with a bad feeling. We played England twice – we won one, and got one point in the second so [we got] four points and they got one point, but they won the tournament, so I think it's unfair, but that's the way it is.
When I'm home it will take a while because my feelings now are bad, but in a week or something I'm going to be happy about this [top goalscorer] prize.
Of course we can learn from this competition, we had a great tournament. We won four of the five matches, drew one and we lost one on penalties. That's hard.
Keziah Veendorp, Netherlands defender
We had to decide it in the last ten minutes. We had three little chances and we had to decide it then because we didn't want penalties. Nobody is talking yet. We won every game except this one so we learn from every match, and this one too. We were the best and it was a really good final.
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