Bulgaria set for expanded Under-17 finals
Tuesday, 5 May 2015
The first 16-team U17 finals since 2002 begins in Bulgaria on Wednesday, with Borislav Mihaylov describing it as "one of the biggest events to be hosted by our country".
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While peak season on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast typically does not start for at least another month, there is one beachfront hotel that is already a hive of activity – all in the name of the expanded 2015 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.
Sixteen squads and their support staff have descended on a vast complex in Pomorie, a town located on a rocky peninsula in Burgas Bay, for a final tournament that has doubled in size from the one England won on penalties in Malta 12 months ago. The 2002 edition, in which Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo exhibited their talents, was the last to feature as many teams.
Over the course of the next 17 days in Burgas, Sliven, Stara Zagora and Sozopol, a new generation of players will attempt to make a name for themselves. Bulgarian Football Union (BFS) president Borislav Mihaylov describes it as "one of the biggest events ever to be hosted by our country."
How the hosts – the only debutants among the field – perform will provide an intriguing plotline in a championship that England, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain are aiming to win for a third time.
UEFA.com will have in-depth coverage, including reports of every match, features and video highlights. Keep an eye on @UEFAcom for the latest from Bulgaria and get involved using #U17EURO.
Group A: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Spain
Group B: Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Slovenia
Group C: France, Greece, Russia, Scotland
Group D: England (holders), Italy, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland
Group matches take place on 6/7, 9/10 and 12/13 May. The top two from each section qualify for the quarter-finals.
Quarter-finals: 15/16 May
Semi-finals: 19 May
Final:22 May (19.00CET, Lazur Stadium, Burgas)