The 2014 UEFA European Under-19 Championship begins in Hungary on July 19 just as the World Cup closes its doors. After Spain claimed the title in 2011 and 2012, Serbia took their 3rd title overall in the 2013 European Under-19 Championship.
The hosts, Hungary, will be making their second tournament appearance with their only other appearance in 2008 when the squad lost in the Semifinals.
Defending champions Serbia had to qualify despite winning last year and did so by winning Group 4 of the Qualification Stage. Serbia finished with seven points and tied with Turkey but advanced due to a higher goal differential. It is their 7th appearance in the tournament and 4th straight.
The only other team to have that high amount of appearances is Portugal. Portugal’s youth team won Group 7 with 9 points, five more than Wales and Belgium who finished behind them in 2nd and 3rd respectively. This is Portugal’s 7th appearance overall and 3rd straight.
The other two former champions in this year’s tournament are Germany and Ukraine. Germany is entering this competition for the 6th time and first since they took the title in 2008. Germany had a very strong qualification as the team finished with nine points and won their last game against Spain in a winner-takes-all match.
Ukraine qualifies for the third time overall and first since the team took the title in 2009. Ukraine had a tall task ahead of them going into their final game against England. The Ukrainians scored the only goal of the game in the 94’ to stun the English and edge them seven points to six.
Israel took Group 3 in convincing fashion, albeit against arguably weaker competition. It is the first time the Israelis ever qualified in this tournament and the squad did it winning all three games against Switzerland, Georgia, and Cyprus. Israel did hold a goal differential of +6, but found themselves in a do-or-die final game against Georgia for the right to advance.
To round out the participants, Austria and Bulgaria are competing in their 5th and 2nd tournament respectively. Austria qualifies for the first time since 2010 while Bulgaria qualifies for the first time since 2008.
The groups will be as follows:
The games kick off on July 19th with 4 Group A and B games. Hungary will take on Austria in Ferenc Szusza Stadium in Budapest and Portugal takes on Israel in Pancho Arena in Felcsut for Group A. In Group B, Bulgaria will take on Germany and Ukraine will take on Serbia, both playing at ETO Park in Gyor.
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