The 14th final tournament of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship was the first to be played in Greece, though the same area of the country had provided the venues for the final tournament in 1995, when the competition still bore the Under-18 label.
On that occasion, Spain had defeated Italy 4-1 in the final played at Katerini. The identities of the eight finalists in 2015 underlined, once again, the competitive nature of football at U19 level, with the presence of only three countries who had been in Hungary for the previous edition: Austria, Ukraine and the defending champions, Germany.
The lineup for the final tournament featured only four previous champions at this age-level, with Austria, Russia, the Netherlands and the Greek hosts bidding to engrave their name on the trophy for the first time.
Three venues were used for the final tournament played from 6–19 July 2015: Katerini, Veria and the AEL FC Arena in Larissa where, in addition to one semi-final, four of the group matches were staged as double-headers. Group A and Group B fixtures were played on different days, with each stadium used for games in both groups.
The host nation played one group match in each of the three venues to ensure maximal engagement with the public. Given the high temperatures, kick-off times were in the evening and referees permitted cooling breaks midway through each half when considered appropriate. The eight delegations were based at two hotels near the coastal town of Paralia.
During the opening days of the final tournament the schedules for the eight squads included educational sessions on doping control procedures and the career-threatening dangers posed by match-fixing.
There was blanket coverage of the tournament to a pan-European audience via Eurosport and, in terms of attendances at the venues, the accumulative total of 66,463 at an average of 4,431 per fixture more than doubled the figures registered in Hungary a year previously. The opening phase of the tournament in Greece was attended by a delegation from the Germany national association, named as hosts for the final tournament in 2016.
Ramsey Cardy (Sportsfile)