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 four third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their groups.
In the elite round, held in early spring, those 30 qualifiers plus the top two seeds – 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 UEFA European Under-17 Championship qualifying round starts on Friday with 52 of the 54 entrants beginning their bids to reach May's final tournament in Croatia – and the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
Road to Croatia
Qualifying round groups
Group 1 (23–28 September): Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Moldova*, Latvia
Group 2 (15–20 October): Republic of Ireland, Greece, Kazakhstan, Andorra*
Group 3 (21–26 October): Switzerland, Czech Republic, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg*
Group 4 (26–31 October): Serbia, Italy*, Albania, FYR Macedonia
Group 5 (20–25 October): Slovenia*, France, Montenegro, Estonia
Group 6 (25–30 October): England, Austria, Romania*, Azerbaijan
Group 7 (28 September–3 October): Hungary*, Netherlands, Denmark, Liechtenstein
Group 8 (28 September–3 October): Georgia, Sweden, Finland*, Bulgaria
Group 9 (19–24 September): Spain, Slovakia, San Marino, Northern Ireland*
Group 10 (16–21 September): Scotland, Portugal (holders)*, Wales, Malta
Group 11 (26–31 October): Belarus, Belgium, Gibraltar, Cyprus*
Group 12 (1–6 November): Poland, Israel*, Iceland, Armenia
Group 13 (23–28 September): Ukraine, Norway, Turkey, Lithuania*
Bye to elite round: Germany
Bye to final tournament: Croatia (hosts)
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.