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.
Ignacio Camacho lifted the UEFA European Under-17 Championship trophy last night and the Spain captain was thrilled with the experience.
The win added to Spain's six titles in the previous U16 event and among the players to have been part of those past triumphs are Iker Casillas and Fernando Torres, a fact not lost on the Club Atlético de Madrid midfielder. "It's a great step to follow the great players that have won this before, who are now in the Primera División," Camacho told uefa.com. "I hope I will also play there in the future."
Spain beat England 1-0 with a goal from Bojan Krkić, the talented striker who hit form in the knockout stages of these finals, equalising in the last four against hosts Belgium before his heroics in Tournai on Sunday. Bojan had struggled earlier after a tiring season, but Camacho says the squad always backed him to come good. "It is true he is one of the most important players in the team and all his team-mates are looking to him," Camacho said. "His strength is always there and the team supported him until the end to get him to this stage, and then he managed to score the two most important goals of the tournament."
Camacho, who idolises Claude Makelele and shares something of the Frenchman's midfield style, also had praise for the coach Juan Santisteban, having led yet another Spanish success in his 20 years in charge of the team. The captain said: "It is clear Juan Santisteban is one of the most important coaches with a lot of experience, I learn from him every day. It is incredible how much experience this man has, it is really great to work with him."
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