The UEFA European Under-17 Championship consists of three distinct stages: the qualifying round, the elite round and the final tournament. The format changed for 2014/15 with the expansion of the final tournament from eight to 16 teams.
The qualifying round, played in autumn, is made up of 13 groups of four countries playing in one-venue mini-tournaments. The top two from each pool progress alongside the four third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their groups.
In the elite round, held in early spring, those 30 qualifiers plus the top two seeds – given a bye this far – compete in eight mini-tournament groups of four. The group winners and seven runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their section advance to the finals to join the hosts.
In the final tournament the contenders are split into four groups of four, with the front two from each proceeding to the knockout phase.
Further details, including the criteria for separating sides that finish level on points in a group, or after 80 minutes in a match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
The road to the 16-team 2018/19 UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals in the Republic of Ireland has begun with the qualifying round draw involving 52 of the hopefuls.
The draw was made by last season's Italy captain Davide Bettella, who received the 2016/17 Respect Fair Play trophy from UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin on behalf of his team.
Qualifying round draw
Group 1 (27 September–3 October): Netherlands, Sweden*, Montenegro, Liechtenstein
Group 2 (10–16 October): Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Ukraine, Iceland, Gibraltar
Group 3 (24–30 October): Austria, Slovenia*, Bulgaria, Malta
Group 4 (20–26 October): Spain, Israel, Faroe Islands, FYR Macedonia*
Group 5 (26 October–1 November): Scotland, Switzerland, Cyprus*, Kosovo
Group 6 (24–30 October): Russia, Denmark*, Georgia, Estonia
Group 7 (25–31 October): France, Poland*, Finland, Luxembourg
Group 8 (23–29 October): Czech Republic, Norway, Azerbaijan, Albania*
Group 9 (30 September–6 October): Serbia, Hungary*, Romania, Lithuania
Group 10 (24–30 October): Turkey*, Slovakia, Northern Ireland, San Marino
Group 11 (10–16 October): Portugal*, Wales, Belarus, Kazakhstan
Group 12 (25–31 October): Belgium, Greece, Latvia, Moldova*
Group 13 (27 October–2 November): Italy, Croatia*, Armenia, Andorra
Bye to elite round: England, Germany
Bye to final tournament: Republic of Ireland (hosts)
• The top two in each group along with the four third-placed teams with the best record against the leading pair will join top seeds England and Germany in the elite round in March 2019.
• After that round, the eight group winners and seven runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their pool will join hosts Ireland in that May's finals.
• The finals will act as Europe's qualifier for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup, with England hoping to be able to defend their title.
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