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Elite eight out to take Spain's Under-21 title

The Czech Republic stages the last eight-team UEFA European U21 Championship finals in June, with the hosts one of five former winners in a field missing holders Spain.

Italy lost 4-2 to Spain, who will not be present in the Czech Republic, in the 2013 final
Italy lost 4-2 to Spain, who will not be present in the Czech Republic, in the 2013 final ©Getty Images

The last eight-team UEFA European Under-21 Championship will take place in the Czech Republic this summer, before the finals expands to 12 nations in 2017 .

From 17 to 30 June, eight sides will battle it out in the cities of Olomouc, Prague and Uherske Hradiste for the right to succeed Spain as continental champions. Winners of the last two tournaments, Spain were eliminated in the 2013/15 play-offs by Serbia.

The hosts kick proceedings off against Denmark in the capital Prague before Germany meet Serbia in the other Group A game. Group B takes centre stage the following day with the competition's most decorated country, five-time winners Italy, playing Sweden and England tackling Portugal. The match schedule can be seen here.

The contenders will prepare for the finals, the Czech Republic's first national team event since the 2008 UEFA European U19 Championship, with a series of friendlies, the dates for which are available here.

Ambassador: Pavel Nedvěd
Tournament facts and figures

Czech favourite Pavel Nedvěd is the finals ambassador
Czech favourite Pavel Nedvěd is the finals ambassador©Sportsfile

Group A
Czech Republic (hosts)
Best performance: winners in 2002
Last finals appearance: fourth in 2011
Qualified automatically as hosts
• A side containing Petr Čech and Milan Baroš defeated France 3-1 on penalties in the 2002 final in Basel.

Denmark
Best performance: semi-finals in 1992
Last finals appearance: group stage in 2011
Qualifying round record: P10 W8 D2 L0 F37 A9 Pts26, Group 2 winners
Play-offs: v Iceland (H 0-0, A 1-1); Denmark win on away goals
• With 37 goals, Denmark were the qualifying round's top scorers.

Germany
Best performance: winners in 2009
Last finals appearance: group stage in 2013
Qualifying round record: P8 W6 D2 L0 F25 A5 Pts20, Group 6 winners
Play-offs: v Ukraine (A W3-0, H W2-0)
• Germany's 4-0 defeat of England in the 2009 decider is the biggest win in an U21 final.

Serbia
Best performance: winners in 1978 as part of Yugoslavia; as an independent nation, runners-up in 2007
Last finals appearance: group stage in 2009
Qualifying round record: P8 W5 D1 L2 F18 A10 Pts16, Group 9 runners-up
Play-offs: v Spain (H 0-0, A W2-1)
• Serbia ended holders Spain's 35-match unbeaten competitive run in their play-off second leg.

Gareth Southgate 'excited' by finals
Gareth Southgate 'excited' by finals

Group B
England
Best performance: winners in 1984, 1982
Last finals appearance: group stage in 2013
Qualifying round record: P10 W9 D1 L0 F31 A2 Pts28, Group 1 winners
Play-offs: v Croatia (H W2-1, A W2-1)
• Saido Berahino was the ten-goal leading scorer in qualifying.

Portugal
Best performance: runners-up in 1994
Last finals appearance: third in 2007
Qualifying round record: P8 W8 D0 L0 F22 A6 Pts24, Group 8 winners
Play-offs: v Netherlands (A W2-0; H W5-4)
• Portugal were the only team to win all of their qualifying and play-off matches.

Italy hope to go one better than in 2013
Italy hope to go one better than in 2013©Getty Images

Italy
Best performance: winners in 2004, 2000, 1996, 1994, 1992
Last finals appearance: runners-up in 2013
Qualifying round record: P8 W6 D0 L2 F19 A7 Pts18, Group 9 winners
Play-offs: v Slovakia (A 1-1, H W3-1)
• Italy are the competition's most successful nation with five final wins.

Sweden
Best performance: runners-up in 1992
Last finals appearance: semi-finals 2009
Qualifying round record: P8 W5 D1 L2 F20 A14 Pts16, Group 7 winners
Play-offs: v France (A L2-0, H W4-1)
• Marcus Berg's seven goals in the 2009 edition in Sweden is a record for a final tournament.