Two former winners will bid for a return to the UEFA European Under-19 Championship from Group 4, Italy (2003) and Ukraine (2009) both having tasted glory in the past. Mini-tournament hosts Poland also have final tournament experience having hosted the event in 2006, while the Republic of Ireland are hoping to spring a surprise.
Daniele Zoratto replaced Massimo Piscedda after last year's finals and the new coach – who played under Italy's youth football coordinator Arrigo Sacchi at AC Cesena and Rimini Calcio in the early 1980s – has made his mark, his side recording friendly wins against Romania (3-1), Turkey (3-0) and the Netherlands (1-0). "The results were fine but we can definitely play better," said Zoratto. "However I'm satisfied because the players are responding well." Michele Camporese and Lorenzo Crisetig have already appeared in the U21 side.
Qualifying round: Latvia 2-1, Faroe Islands 3-0, Croatia 3-1 (first in Group 7)
Key players: Simone Verdi (forward, AC Milan), Alessandro De Vitis (midfielder, Parma FC), Simone Benedetti (defender, FC Internazionale Milano), Stephan El Shaarawy (attacking midfielder, Calcio Padova), Federico Carraro (midfielder, ACF Fiorentina)
Janusz Białek's team are unbeaten in friendlies this year, recording a win and a draw against both Norway (3-1, 1-1) and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (0-0, 2-0). "This is a talented generation who can also provide some players for the senior national team in the future; I'm sure some of my players will be knocking at that door quite soon," Białek told UEFA.com. "We're playing against some big teams, and it's a huge challenge, but it's good as we will see exactly where we are. I'm excited and sure we can do well."
Qualifying round: Finland 2-0, Moldova 0-0, Hungary 0-2 (second in Group 6)
Key players: Rafał Janicki (KS Lechia Gdańsk), Marcin Kamiński (KKS Lech Poznań), Damian Dabrowski (Zagłębie Lubin), Michał Żyro (Legia Warszawa)
Republic of Ireland
Paul Doolin's side have looked impressive in their warm-up games, remaining unbeaten in friendlies against Croatia (twice) and Cyprus while Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Sean Murray (Watford FC) and Joe Shaughnessy (Aberdeen FC) have all gained first-team experience for their clubs this year. "Ukraine have a great record and Italy are always a threat but our squad have improved since the qualifying round," said Doolin. "They've adapted well to what I was looking for from them."
Qualifying round: Luxembourg 5-0, Bulgaria 2-1, Serbia 0-1 (second in Group 10)
Key players: Aaron McCarey (goalkeeper, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), John Egan (defender, Sunderland AFC), Robert Brady (forward, Manchester United FC), Eoin Wearen (midfielder, West Ham United FC)
Ukraine last negotiated the elite round in 2004 – they qualified automatically as hosts for the 2009 finals – and have recently been beaten by Russia (0-1) and Germany (0-3), although they did record a 2-1 friendly win against Belgium before Estonia were beaten 1-0 in Kyiv. "That match should have been split into two parts, as we used our reserves after the break," said coach Olexander Golovko. "However, in Poland we are going to rely on the players who have been in the team for the past four years."
Qualifying round: Denmark 2-0, Sweden 1-0, Russia 1-2 (first in Group 4)
Key players: Oleksandr Noyok (midfielder, FC Zakarpattya Uzhgorod), Pylyp Budkivskiy (forward, FC Illichyvets Mariupil), Ivan Ordets (defender, FC Illychivets Mariupil), Vladyslav Kalytvyntsev (midfielder, FC Dynamo Kyiv)
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