Uruguay awaits! From 9-21 May, eight national teams will face off for the continental crown at the UEFA U-17 Women’s Championship in Lithuania. The tournament also serves as qualifying for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2018. The competitors are divided into groups of four, with the top two from each going through to the semi-finals.
The overwhelming favourites are Germany, having played ten U-17 Women’s Championship finals and won six of them, which therefore makes them the most successful team in the history of the competition, first held in 2008. Coach Anouschka Bernhard’s team made the final in 2017 where they defeated Spain on penalties to retain the trophy that they had won the previous year.
“In our first training sessions, we followed on from the work from our friendly against Czech Republic. Our focus is now on the group stage and our first opponents, Finland,” said Bernhard on the German association’s website. “It will be an exciting three-way battle for the two semi-final spots. The three of us have very different systems: the Netherlands play 4-3-3, while Finland prefer to keep possession wherever possible and we have three at the back. It will be fun to see how these three formations clash. The matches promise to be very exciting.”
With three wins in nine appearances, Spain are also among the favourites at this tournament. Since the final phase went up to eight teams in the 2013/14 season, Spain has always made it into the final. Besides Germany and Spain, the only other former winner of the tournament is Poland (2013).
The Netherlands will provide stiff competition, as they proved by winning the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017. The U-17s qualified for this tournament without dropping a point and won their qualifying tournament at a canter with wins over Portugal, Belgium and Romania.