Group 6 hosts Romania are bidding for a finals return although Austria are also aiming for Hungary and Russia and Norway have lofty ambitions of their own.
Article top media content
Despite their impressive qualifying round showing, Russia struggled at a recent friendly tournament in Portugal, collecting just one point from their three matches with three goals scored and nine conceded. "We drew the right conclusions and thoughtfully analysed our games, so we are approaching the elite round in Romania in good heart," said coach Dmitri Ulyanov, who has extended his contract with the Russian Football Union.
Key players: Maksim Martusevich (midfielder, PFC CSKA Moskva), Arshak Koryan (midfielder, FC Lokomotiv Moskva), Danila Yaschuk (midfielder, FC Zenit), Denis Davydov (forward, FC Spartak Moskva)
Having missed out on winning their qualifying round group on the final day after a seven-game winning streak was ended by holders Serbia, Andreas Heraf's team went down to a 3-1 defeat against Belgium last month. Austria are keen team wants to get back to winning ways in the elite round, Heraf saying: "Looking at the names we face, it could have been worse. But our opponents haven't qualified for nothing. Our goal is qualifying for the [FIFA U-20] World Cup in New Zealand and if you want to go there, you have to win the group."
Key players: Sascha Horvath (midfielder, FK Austria Wien), Florian Grillitsch (midfielder, SV Werder Bremen), Synan Bytyqi (forward, Manchester City FC), Ivan Lucic (goalkeeper, SV Ried)
Norway have failed to qualify for the finals for the last nine years, and coach Bård Flovik is under no illusions that his side faces a difficult task this year as well. His charges lost 0-1 to Poland and Portugal at La Manga in February, although Denmark were beaten 2-0. In the final warm-up game Norway drew 2-2 with Greece, Iver Fossum and Vajebah Sakor scoring their goals. "We hope the boys perfom well enough to qualify," said Flovik. "This is a promising crop of players. The match against Greece bodes well; that was the best game this team has played."
Key players: Bård Finne (forward, 1. FC Köln), Herman Stengel (midfielder, Vålerenga Fotball), Alexander Sørloth (forward, Rosenborg BK), Vegard Bergan (defender, Odds Ballklubb), Iver Fossum (midfielder, Strømsgodset Toppfotball)
Having hosted the 2011 finals, Romania have qualified just once – in 1993 – and Stefan Iovan, captain of FC Steaua Bucureşti's 1986 European Champion Clubs' Cup-winning side, is the latest coach to try to improve that record. His charges lost only one of their seven warm-up friendlies against Italy Lega Pro, the Republic of Ireland, Israel and Bulgaria and boast a number of players who have gained invaluable club experience recently. "We have a very good squad and I fully trust my players," said Iovan. "We have the same chances as all the other teams of our group, which is very even. I am confident we have the necessary skills to reach the final tournament."
Key players: Nicolae Vasile (defender, FC Rapid București), Doru Popadiuc (midfielder, FC Ceahlăul Piatra Neamţ), Dorin Rotariu (forward, FC Dinamo Bucureşti), Ionuț Mitriță (FC Viitorul Constanţa)