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Tough start to Spain's title defence

Holders Spain face their semi-final victims from last season, the Netherlands, as the fourth edition kicks off with the first qualifying round, the first games played on Monday.

Spain will be defending their Women's U17 title from October
Spain will be defending their Women's U17 title from October ©Sportsfile

A rematch between 2009/10 UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship winners Spain and their semi-final victims, the Netherlands, are among the highlights as next season's competition kicks off with the first qualifying round.

For the competition's fourth edition, 41 nations have entered, one more than in previous years. Germany, winners of the first two competitions and third last time around in June, have been given a bye straight to the second qualifying round while the other 40 entrants will compete in ten four-team one-venue mini-tournaments in September and October.

The first to kick off on Monday will be Group 5 in Bulgaria, also involving Italy, Iceland and Lithuania. Spain, who beat the Republic of Ireland on penalties to lift the trophy for the first time, begin on 3 October in Group 4, where they face Georgia, Belarus and the Netherlands, who stage the mini-tournament and hope to avenge their 3-0 loss to the eventual winners last season. Ireland are in one of the two groups that will conclude the round on 20 October, making the short trip over the border to face Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The ten group winners and the five runners-up with the best record against those first and third in their pool will join Germany in the second qualifying round drawn on 16 November and played next spring. Four teams will eventually qualify for the final tournament which, as in previous years, will be held in UEFA's hometown of Nyon, Switzerland in summer 2011.

2010/11 UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship
First qualifying round

Hosts in bold
Group 1 (25-30 September 2010)
Group 2 (15-20 October 2010)
FinlandCzech Republic
NorwayRepublic of Ireland
KazakhstanFormer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
SerbiaNorthern Ireland
Group 3 (15-20 October 2010)
Group 4 (3-8 October 2010)
DenmarkSpain (holders)
Group 5 (20-25 September 2010)
Group 6 (3-8 October 2010)
Group 7 (6-11 October 2010)
Group 8 (5-10 October 2010)
Group 9 (14-19 October 2010)
Group 10 (26 September-1 October)
LatviaFaroe Islands