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What you need to know about U17 EURO

With 16 teams preparing for the start of the 2016 finals on Thursday, UEFA.com gives you the lowdown on the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Azerbaijan.

The 2016 UEFA European Under-17 Championship tournament hotel in Baku
The 2016 UEFA European Under-17 Championship tournament hotel in Baku ©Sportsfile

How does the tournament work?
Fifteen nations booked their places at the finals, which run from 5-21 May, alongside hosts Azerbaijan by negotiating the qualifying and elite rounds. The 16 teams will compete in four groups of four, with the top two in each section progressing to the quarter-finals. Games are 80 minutes in duration and knockout fixtures level at full time will be decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Where is it being held?
The 31 matches will be played at four venues in Baku. In 2012 Azerbaijan staged the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, while two years later Baku was the setting for the UEFA Futsal Cup. Now Azerbaijan is hosting a UEFA youth finals for the first time. The final – as well as six group games and both semi-finals – will be played at the 68,000-capacity Baku Olympic Stadium.

Baku Olympic Stadium
Baku Olympic Stadium©UEFA.com

When are the games?
Find out by downloading the match schedule.

Who are the fancied sides?
That is a difficult question to answer given that squads change markedly from year to year in age-group football. However, England, the Netherlands, Spain, Russia and France boast fine U17 pedigree, having all won the title twice – no country has managed to do so three times.

The full lineup is: Austria, Azerbaijan*, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine.

*debutants

How is football in Azerbaijan developing?
It is flourishing. This video will explain all.

Azerbaijan showing promise in development
Azerbaijan showing promise in development

What happened last year?
France, with Luca Zidane (son of Zinédine) in goal, triumphed in Bulgaria, defeating Germany 4-1 in the final. Watch the highlights below.

2015 final highlights: France 4-1 Germany
2015 final highlights: France 4-1 Germany

Do any famous players have U17 experience?
Where do we start? Paul Pogba, Mario Götze, Eden Hazard, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, to name but five, showcased their talents on the U17 stage. Memphis Depay, now of Manchester United, caught the eye with this stunning effort in 2011 ...

Depay U17 Goal
Depay U17 Goal

Where can I watch it?
Eurosport will broadcast every group match involving Germany, Portugal and France. There will also be extensive coverage of the knockout phase starting on 14 May.

How else can I follow the finals?
UEFA.com will have in-depth coverage, including round-ups, match reports, features and video highlights. Keep an eye on @UEFAcom for the latest from Azerbaijan, get involved using #U17EURO and download the official tournament programme.