France, England, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark join hosts Wales in the draw for the 2013 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship on 7 May.
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The draw for the 2013 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, Wales's first UEFA final tournament, takes place in Llanelli on 7 May at half-time of the FAW Women's Cup final between Cardiff City LFC and Cardiff Metropolitan Ladies FC. UEFA.com takes a look at the runners and riders who will be split into two groups of four.
For reigning champions, such as Sweden are, the transition from hunter to hunted can be difficult to come to terms with. The previous two holders' title defences had ended in qualifying – and a potential hat-trick was on the cards when Calle Barrling's charges were grouped with Italy, the Netherlands and an up-and-coming Republic of Ireland side in the second qualifying round. With 17-year-old prospect Marija Banusic firing on all cylinders, though, Sweden did the job; they needed to beat Ireland on the final day and did exactly that.
Best performance: winners (2012)
A youthful Denmark team surprised even their coach by reaching last summer's finals in Turkey – eventually advancing to the last four – and the manner in which they booked their place in Wales suggests they can go further this time. They managed six wins out of six over the two qualifying rounds and are unbeaten in ten games in 2013. Boss Søren Randa-Bolt is optimistic. "If an Under-19 squad can be called experienced, then I think that applies to us as many of these players played last year's U19 final tournament. Germany and France appear very strong, but if we can avoid them in the draw we have a clear goal of finishing among the top four."
Best performance: semi-finals (2002, 2006, 2012)
England's second qualifying round bid looked to be over before it had begun when Serbia stunned them 5-4 in their opening game. However, Nikita Parris helped calm nerves with an early breakthrough in the next match, Mo Marley's side beating Hungary to keep hopes alive. Another 3-0 win in their final outing, against Norway, would guarantee progress and Parris was on a mission. The Everton LFC forward was a constant threat, capping her efforts with a fine individual goal that made it 3-0. England were through, even if events elsewhere meant 1-0 would have sufficed in the end.
Best performance: winners (2009)
Finland's return of six victories from six qualification games, scoring 27 goals and conceding two in the process, would have been impressive for anyone – never mind for a side that had not progressed to the finals since 2004/05. They claimed 2-1 wins against Spain in the first qualifying round and Portugal in the second, runners-up and semi-finalists last year, so this summer's tournament in Wales could yet have a Finnish theme. For one thing, the hosts' coach is Finn Jarmo Matikainen.
Best performance: semi-finals (2005)
The Bleuettes return to the championship stage for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2010, with high hopes of a third title triumph this summer. Last October France won the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan and much of that team has been promoted to the U19 setup – with eye-catching results. Given a bye through the first stage of qualifying, they negotiated a potentially thorny group with aplomb, recording victories against Belgium, Russia and Switzerland, scoring 11 and shipping just one in the process.
Best performance: winners (2010, 2004)
Germany, record four-time winners of this event, missed out on the finals last season for the first time in the tournament's history but a repeat was never in the offing as they coasted to Wales in some style. Handed a bye through the first qualifying round, they won three out of three and no other side registered more than their 16 goals or conceded fewer than their one. Coach Maren Meinert hopes this is just the start. "We played well in defence and scored a lot of goals – we have to build on these performances at the European Championship."
Best performance: winners (2002, 2006, 2007, 2011)
When Nikita Parris put England 3-0 up with 20 minutes of their final qualifier remaining, the death knell sounding for Norway's campaign was deafening. Although Jarl Torske's side were guaranteed second spot, their preceding 5-2 victory over Serbia would not be enough to earn progress as the second round runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their group. However, if Hungary could finish third that would be a different matter as Norway had beaten them 7-0 – but the Hungarians trailed Serbia 3-1. Then something amazing happened: three Magyar goals in eight minutes turned that game on its head. Norway were alive.
Best performance: runners-up (2003, 2008, 2011)
The hosts are making their final tournament debut, having never quite being able to get over the line in seven appearances in the second qualifying round. They have come close, most notably in 2005 and 2006 with a team spearheaded by Jessica Fishlock, and 2011 when they held the mighty Germany to a brilliant goalless draw. They have experienced some mixed form in warm-up friendlies this season, from the high of beating England on penalties after a 1-1 draw to the low of heavy back-to-back defeats by Norway.
Best performance: have never qualified