Under-19 Group A preview

Hosts Germany will be looking to reclaim the title they last won in 2014 but face a serious challenge in Group A from a talented Portugal team and ambitious duo Italy and Austria.

Representatives of the four Group A sides with the trophy
Representatives of the four Group A sides with the trophy ©Getty Images

11 July: Germany v Italy (12:00, Stuttgart), Portugal v Austria (19:00, Grossaspach)
14 July: Italy v Austria (12:00, Reutlingen), Germany v Portugal (19:30, Grossaspach)
17 July: Austria v Germany (19:30, Reutlingen), Italy v Portugal (19:30, Stuttgart)

Austria coach Rupert Marko
Austria coach Rupert Marko©Ivan Klindić

Best performance: semi-finals 2003, 2006, 2014
Qualifying round: Albania 3-0 (forfeited), Wales 2-0, Georgia 0-0 (Group 8 winners)
Elite round: Slovakia 3-1, Romania 4-0, Czech Republic 3-1 (Group 3 winners)
Top scorer: Dominik Prokop 4

Austria coach Rupert Marko sees his team's opening game with Portugal as a duel with one of the contenders for the crown. "Next to hosts Germany and the Netherlands, Portugal are among my top three favourites. That means we will have a very, very difficult start to this tournament."

In particular, Marko has a lot of respect for Portugal's individual talents, explaining: "You can tell the quality of their 1997 generation by the fact their best player [Renato Sanches] will be on the pitch in the EURO 2016 final. But we will try everything to provide solutions to their great qualities."

Best performance: winners 2008, 2014

Germany coach Guido Streichsbier is looking forward to an "extraordinary game" as the hosts kick off against Italy in front of a sell-out crowd of around 50,000 at the VfB Arena on Monday. "We will have to play with a good mix of intelligence and powerful attacking as Italy have top players like Manuel Locatelli from AC Milan, who is extraordinarily good at fast counterattacks."

Italy midfielder Manuel Locatelli
Italy midfielder Manuel Locatelli©Getty Images

Best performance: winners 2003
Qualifying round: Finland 1-1, FYR Macedonia 3-2, England 0-0 (Group 4 runners-up)
Elite round: Israel 4-0, Switzerland 2-0, Turkey 2-2 (Group 2 winners)
Top scorer: Luca Vido 4

Italy coach Paolo Vanoli and his side "can't wait to walk on the pitch and play this match against Germany", but the coach doesn't see their Group A curtain-raiser as a revenge mission after the Mannschaft defeated Italy in the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-finals. He has vowed that his team will be ready, though he has yet to reveal whether he will play with one striker or two. "There's still a night to sleep on it," he said.

Best performance: runners-up 2003, 2014
Qualifying round: Moldova 1-0, Lithuania 5-0, Greece 4-0 (Group 7 winners)
Elite round: Sweden 4-0, Russia 1-1, Slovenia 3-1 (Group 6 winners)
Top scorers: Buta 4

Portugal coach Emílio Peixe is optimistic after watching his players at close quarters recently. "What they've shown during our preparations so far has been really good," he said. "I'm very satisfied." Peixe expects a tight tournament, arguing that "any of the eight teams can win this title", but his faith in his own charges is significant. "Our 1997 generation is promising. Not least Renato Sanches, who played with us during the qualifiers. He's an example of what's possible with this generation."

Top