The elite round starts with a bang on Saturday as the last 24 teams standing in the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship begin a battle for seven finals spots that spans 36 games across six days.
England, who have contested three of the last five finals, get the action under way as they take on Denmark this weekend, one of two Group 6 opponents they beat en route to the runners-up slot last summer. After then meeting Serbia next Monday, they line up against mini-tournament hosts Finland the following Thursday in a repeat of the 2013 semi-final, a match they won 4-0.
France denied England a second WU19 crown in extra time, and Gilles Eyquem's side – featuring a clutch of the young team that triumphed in south-west Wales – commence their title defence a few hours later on Saturday in the Dordogne against Romania. It is perhaps next Thursday's climactic Group 3 game that really whets the appetite, when the French tackle 2012 victors Sweden. Only the group winners and the runner-up with the best record against the sides first and third in their pool advance to the finals in Norway from 15–27 July.
England and France both enter at this stage of qualification as two of three top seeds along with Germany. Maren Meinert's charges launch their tilt at a fifth title against the Czech Republic. The trio are joined by 21 teams that emerged from a field of 44 in September's qualifying round, among them Belarus, gracing the second phase of qualifying for the second time. Croatia, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland and Ukraine have never reached a final tournament.
Elite round lineup
Group 1: Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Belarus
Group 2: Scotland, Russia, Iceland, Croatia
Group 3: Sweden, France, Poland, Romania
Group 4: Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Ukraine
Group 5: Austria, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Turkey
Group 6: England, Finland, Denmark, Serbia
You can follow all the scores and scorers on UEFA.com, with round-ups on each of the three matchdays: Saturday 5 April, Monday 7 April and Thursday 10 April.
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