France are in the finals for the fourth time and hoping to go one better than their runners-up finish last year

The France team that beat Norway 4-0 to qualify
The France team that beat Norway 4-0 to qualify ©Digitalsport

Runners-up in 2008 and 2011, France have only once missed out on the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship finals, having had the misfortune to come up against Germany in qualifying for the 2010 competition. Their progress to this year's event has been serene in the extreme – they have won all six of their qualifying games, scoring 35 goals and conceding just one.

"The fact that the finals are at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon only underlines how important this competition is for us," said coach Paco Rubio, himself in his third final tournament. "It is an honour for us to be here. It would be a major achievement to win the trophy."

First qualifying round: Faroe Islands 10-0, Moldova 8-1, Wales 5-0 (Group 5 winners)

Second qualifying round: Republic of Ireland 4-0, Poland 4-0, Norway 4-0 (Group 2 winners)

Key players
Léa Declercq (forward, FCF Hénin-Beaumont), Sandie Toletti (midfielder, Montpellier Hérault SC), Griedge M'Bock Bathy (defender, EA Guingamp)

Coach profile: Francisco 'Paco' Rubio

Date of Birth: 6 December 1953
Nationality: French
Playing career: EDS Montluçon, AS Nancy-Lorraine, Olympique de Marseille, Tours FC, US Joué-lés-Tours
Coaching career: US Joué-lés-Tours, US Autonome Pouancé, RC Fontainebleau, France women's U16/U17

Rubio took over his first women's youth squad in summer 2007, an U16  selection that two years later were European Women's U17 bronze medallists, and in 2011 led his team to the final. Previously a lower-division coach, he spent ten years as technical director of the Val d'Oise region but is best remembered as an influential midfielder at Nancy, scoring 60 goals in 299 games from 1976 to 1983; the club's heyday as they won the 1978 French Cup. Rubio, with flowing blond locks, linked up with a youngster named Michel Platini in that side.

Marseille then attracted Rubio, and it was he who scored the injury-time play-off goal against Olympique Lyonnais that secured promotion back to the top flight in the 1983/84 season. In 1985, Rubio returned to his native area, at Tours and Joué-lés-Tours, where he started his coaching career.

Qualifying top scorer
Léa Declercq: 7

UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship best
Runners-up: 2008, 2011, 2012

Honours in UEFA women's youth competitions
UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship

Winners: 2003, 2010
Runners-up: 2002, 2005, 2006

UEFA European Women's Under-18 Championship
Runners-up: 1998