East Germany proved masters of a new knockout format as they claimed what was to be their only UEFA national team crown in Yugoslavia.
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In 1984 the UEFA European Under-18 Championship underwent its first major change of format. In line with the FIFA U-20 World Cup it became a two-year tournament, with the number of finalists halved to eight who progressed to a straight knockout competition.
The qualification system changed to eight groups of four teams, with the winners to go through, and the hosts selected from among the eight finalists. As in the previous edition, the holders missed out in qualifying, Hungary a point behind Bulgaria. France, champions in 1983, were eliminated by Yugoslavia, losing out on goals scored despite winning their last game 12-0 against Luxembourg. Yugoslavia's reward was to stage the finals.
However, the hosts' campaign ended on the first afternoon as they lost 2-0 to East Germany. Inaugural champions West Germany, the only team with a perfect record in their qualifiers, defeated Romania 3-0 while 1982 winners Scotland overcame Bulgaria 1-0 and Italy beat Belgium 2-1.
The two Germanys met in the semi-finals, and the East claimed the only goal as in those nations' only senior meeting in 1974. Italy beat Scotland 1-0 to reach the final, while on the same day the beaten quarter-finalists played off for the right to join the top four in the 1987 U20 World Cup, Bulgaria beating Belgium by the only goal and Yugoslavia scoring five without reply against Romania – a victory that was to pay dividends the following year.
There were mutual German celebrations on finals day in Subotica. The West beat Scotland 1-0 for third place, while in the tournament showpiece the East's 3-1 victory against Italy gave them a trophy to add to their two International Youth Tournament successes. It was to be their only UEFA national team title as a separate nation.
East Germany went on to finish third at the U20 World Cup in Chile the following year, Yugoslavia beating West Germany on penalties in the final to lift the trophy.