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.
Spain coach Juan Santisteban said their performance in winning the UEFA European Under-17 Championship with a 4-0 defeat of France was "the best I have seen at this level" after 20 years in charge. It was Santisteban's sixth victory in the U16 or U17 Championship, and France coach Francis Smerecki offered his congratulations to his opposite number, who 50 years ago won the European Champion Clubs' Cup as a Real Madrid CF player.
Juan Santisteban, Spain coach
Twenty years in this job and I can say I have never seen a final played in such a magnificent fashion. I think for a youth team to play like that is something really exceptional. I think they have produced a performance that nobody will forget, probably the best I have seen at this level, really sensational. It was not an individual triumph, it is all down to teamwork, and I'd like to pick out my assistants; we have been working with this team for a whole year, not one match, and they have laid the foundations for such a magnificent performance. [Being chaired by the players] was a very emotional moment because in all my years it had never happened to me before and it underlines the fact that this team not only has tremendous quality as footballers but also as people. Anyone who knows me, the way I work, realises that I put more emphasis on the development of the person than the player. This moment illustrates that I have a wonderful group and they've done extremely well; it was a moment of tremendous joy for me.
I am an old man and seen a lot of football, and this is the best performance I have seen from any of your youth teams. The credit goes to all the people that have worked on the team and it is a moment to reflect on all the support the Spanish Football Federation have given me over all these years. Because let's not get carried away about winning a final tonight or last year, they gave me support through all the years that we didn't win anything. I would not like to forget the players who took part earlier on in qualifying and can only wish them all the greatest success in their future careers. This is the best-organised tournament I have participated in during my career.
Francis Smerecki, France coach.
First of all I'd like to say I am very satisfied with my team's tournament. The team has progressed a lot in two years. Now we have to admit that Spain were stronger than us tonight. Now we can see how much progress we have to make to reach Spain's level. The players have missed their chance in this final but I'd rather lose 4-0 than really narrowly. I congratulate Juan Santisteban on the career he has had, as a player and as a coach. Even if we had won I would have said the same. It is hard for us to swallow this defeat, but if they can make it as professionals they will taste victory in other competitions.
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