European Under-21 Championship 2019: All you need to know
The 22nd edition of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship gets underway on Sunday as co-hosts Italy and San Marino greet the best young talent from across the continent.
Germany won their second title by beating Spain in the final two years ago in Poland, but England will be confident of claiming the crown this time around.
The core of Aidy Boothroyd's squad won the Under-20 World Cup two years ago as England secured their first global title since 1966.
Eurosport assesses their chances and provide all you need to know about this summer's tournament.
Germany won the European Under-21 Championship in 2017Getty Images
Where and when is it taking place?
Italy and San Marino are hosting the tournament from June 16 to June 30 at six separate venues:
- Stadio Renato Dall'Ara - Bologna, Italy
- Stadio Dino Manuzzi - Cesenas, Italy
- Dacia Arena - Udine, Italy
- Mapei Stadium - Reggio Emilia, Italy
- Stadio Nereo Rocco - Trieste, Italy
- San Marino Stadium - Serravalle, San Marino
Dacia Arena in Udine will host the final on June 30Getty Images
The Groups - and how it works
There are three groups comprised of four teams. The winners of each group not only qualify for the semi-finals, but also qualifiy for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The best second-placed team - based on 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) goals scored; 4) disciplinary points; 5) coefficient - also qualify for Tokyo 2020 and the semi-finals.
Should England (ineligible for the Olympic men's football tournament) qualify for the semi-finals, the second and third best runners-up will contest an Olympic play-off on Friday 28 June in Cesena.
Co-hosts Italy have been drawn with 2017 runners-up Spain in Group A, along with Poland and Belgium. Holders Germany have been drawn in Group B alongside Denmark, Serbia and Austria.
England have arguably the toughest assignment with Boothroyd's men in Group C with France, Croatia and Romania.
Semi-finals: 27 June
Possible Olympic play-off: 28 June
Final: 30 June
|Group A||Group B||Group C|
Group Fixtures (BST kick-off times)
Sunday June 16
Poland vs Belgium (Group A, 17:30), Italy vs Spain (A, 20:00)
Monday June 17
Serbia vs Austria (B, 17:30), Germany vs Denmark (B, 20:00)
Tuesday June 18
Romania vs Croatia (C, 17:30), England vs France (C, 20:00)
Wednesday June 19
Spain vs Belgium (A, 17:30), Italy vs Poland (C, 20:00)
Thursday June 20
Denmark vs Austria (B, 17:30), Italy vs Poland (A, 20:00)
Friday June 21
England vs Romania (C, 17:30), France vs Croatia (C, 20:00)
Saturday June 22
Belgium vs Italy (A, 20:00), Spain vs Poland (A, 20:00)
Sunday June 23
Austria vs Germany (B, 20:00), Denmark vs Serbia (B, 20:00)
Monday June 24
Croatia vs England (C, 20:00), France vs Romania (C, 20:00)
Can England live up to expectations?
England's Under 21s were in fine form during qualifyingGetty Images
Having reached the semi-finals in Poland, England's pool of quality talent certainly hasn't dried up.
The breakthrough of Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Crystal Palace, in addition to the creativity of Phil Foden, Harvey Barnes and James Maddison in midfield make the Young Lions second favourites to Spain.
Angus Gunn, Ryan Sessegnon, Tammy Abraham and Demarai Gray have all gained Premier League experience in the past two seasons, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin emerged as Everton's first-choice striker in the second half of last campaign.
Boothroyd need only reflect on the disastrous 2015 European Championships under Gareth Southgate for a cautionary tale, however.
England finished bottom of a group that featured Portugal, Sweden and Italy in the Czech Republic when expectations were similarly high.
Many of those players used that setback to acts as a catalyst in their development with 11 from that squad, including Jack Butland, John Stones and Harry Kane, going on to win full senior caps for their country - and five playing under Southgate at the 2018 World Cup.
Nathan Redmond is consoled by Demarai Gray after his missed penalty saw England Under-21s lose to Germany at Euro 2017PA Sport
Who are the main challengers?
Germany will look to defend their crown - but given the transitional period the senior team are experiencing under Joachim Low, only four players remain from the 2017 squad: Levin Öztunali, Mahmoud Dahoud, Waldemar Anton and Nadiem Amiri.
Germany will be without their top goalscorer in qualifying, Cedric Teuchert, but there are high hopes for goalkeeper Alexander Nübel - seen as the next Manuel Neuer - while Jonathan Tah and the Eggestein brothers Maximilian and Johannes have all already been capped at senior level.
Spain will once more provide fierce opposition as the 2017 player of the tournament Dani Ceballos is retained despite having made six appearances for La Roja's senior team.
Dani Ceballos was crowned player of the tournament in 2017Getty Images
He is named in Spain's 23-man squad alongside his Real Madrid team-mates Jesús Vallejo and Borja Mayoral, while new West Ham signing Pablo Fornals is another player who will catch the eye for Premier League viewers.
Italy are taking the competition seriously under Luigi Di Biagio on home soil with no fewer than six players with previous senior experience making his squad: Gianluca Mancini, Alessandro Bastoni, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Federico Chiesa, Moise Kean (with two goals in his first three full internationals) and Nicolò Zaniolo.
Who could win the Golden Boot?
Italy and Spain are both expected to progress from Group A, but Belgium boast one of Europe's most exciting young prospects. Watford striker Dodi Lukebakio spent last season on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf. The 21-year-old scored 10 Bundesliga goals in 31 appearances, including a hat-trick against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
Lukebakio is not the only player on Desseldorf's books last season who will light up Group A with Poland's Dawid Kownacki the leading scorer in qualifying for the tournament on 11 goals.
Dawid Kownacki was in excellent form for Fortuna Düsseldorf last seasonImago
Germany striker Luca Waldschmidt scored 12 Bundesliga goals last season for Freiburg and he will look to hit the ground running in Group B, but France's Moussa Dembele is favourite among some bokmakers to scoop the Golden Boot.
Italy's Moise Kean could be in line to benefit from the creativity of Lorenzo Pellegrini, with the Roma midfielder creating just under three chances per 90 minutes in Serie A last term, with that figure rising to a tournament high of 4.4 in the Champions League.
It's been a busy old week for Luka Jovic after the 21-year-old completed his €60m move to Real Madrid last week - but before he takes a well-earned rest, he must spearhead Serbia's chances.
Luka Jovic will feature for Serbia after completing his Real Madrid switchGetty Images
Where to watch?
Golden Boot winner - selected odds:
Moussa Dembele - 7/1
Borja Mayoral - 9/1
Luca Waldschmidt - 10/1
Moise Kean - 10/1
Tammy Abraham - 10/1
Luka Jovic - 12/1
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 14/1
Dominic Solanke - 14/1
Jonathan Bamba - 14/1
Federico Chiesa - 16/1
Casper De Norre - BelgiumGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Nordin Jackers, Ortwin De Wolf, Jens Teunckens
Defenders: Dion Cools, Sebastiaan Bornauw, Wout Faes, Casper De Norre, Rocky Bushiri, Jur Schryvers, Dries Wouters, Elias Cobbaut
Forwards: Isaac Mbenza, Aaron Leya Iseka, Dodi Lukebakio, Stéphane Oméonga, Francis Amuzu
Moise Kean - ItalyGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Emil Audero, Lorenzo Montipo, Alex Meret
Defenders: Arturo Calabresi, Guiseppe Pezzella, Kevin Bonfazi, Alessandro Bastoni, Federico Dimarco, Gianluca Mancini, Claud Adjapong, Filippo Romagna
Midfielders: Sandro Tonali, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Nicolo Zaniolo, Rolando Mandragora, Riccardo Orsolini, Nicolo Barella, Manuel Locatelli, Alessandro Murgia
Forwards: Patrick Cutrone, Federico Chiesa, Federico Bonazzoli, Moise Kean
Krystian Bielik - PolandGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Kamil Grabara, Mateusz Lis, Tomasz Loska
Defenders: Kamil Pestka, Mateusz Wieteska, Krystian Bielik, Dominik Jończy, Robert Gumny
Midfielders: Przemysław Płacheta, Paweł Bochniewicz, Szymon Żurkowski, Jakub Piotrowski, Dawid Kownacki, Sebastian Szymański, Mateusz Wdowiak, Patryk Dziczek, Kamil Jóźwiak, Filip Jagiełło, Karol Fila, Konrad Michalak
Forwards: Karol Swiderski, Adam Buksa, Paweł Tomczyk
Borja Mayoral - SpainGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Antonio Sivera, Unai Simón, Daniel Martín
Defenders: Jesús Vallejo, Aarón Martín, Jorge Meré, Unai Nuñez, Martín Aguirregabiria, Pol Lirola, Junior Firpo
Forwards: Borja Mayoral, Rafa Mir, Dani Olmo
Austria U21 European Championship squadGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Johannes Kreidl, Patrick Pentz, Alexander Schlager
Defenders: Marco Friedl, Stefan Posch, Philipp Lienhart, Petar Gluhakovic, Maximilian Ullmann, Dario Maresic, Sandro Ingolitsch
Midfielders: Emir Karic, Kevin Danso, Xaver Schlager, Mathias Honsak, Husein Balić, Ivan Ljubic, Dejan Ljubicic, Hannes Wolf, Christoph Baumgartner, Sascha Horvath
Forwards: Adrian Grbic, Marko Kvasina, Sasa Kalajdzic
Denmark - European Under-21 ChampionshipGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Daniel Iversen, Peter Vindahl-Jensen, Oskar Snorre
Midfielders: Philip Billing, Mikkel Duelund, Mathias Jensen, Robert Skov, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Asger Sørensen, Oliver Abildgaard, Magnus Kofod Andersen, Jens Stage
Forwards: Marcus Ingvartsen, Anders Dreyer, Andreas Olsen, Jonas Wind
Germany - European U21 ChampionshipGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Alexander Nübel, Florian Müller, Markus Schubert
Midfielders: Maximilian Eggestein, Levin Öztunali, Mahmoud Dahoud, Suat Serdar, Nadiem Amiri, Florian Neuhaus, Arne Maier, Eduard Löwen
Forwards: Lukas Nmecha, Luca Waldschmidt, Marco Richter, Johannes Eggestein
Luka Jovic will spearhead Serbia's chargeGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Boris Radunovic, Dragan Rosić, Miloš Ostojić
Defenders: Milan Gajić, Aleksa Terzić, Nikola Milenković, Erhan Mašović, Miroslav Bogosavac, Vukašin Jovanović, Svetozar Marković, Srđan Babić
Midfielders: Uroš Račić, Danilo Pantić, Andrija Živković, Luka Adžić, Lazar Ranđelović, Saša Lukić
Forwards: Nemanja Radonjić, Luka Jović, Ivan Šaponjić, Dejan Joveljić, Igor Zlatanović, Aleksandar Lutovac
Croatia - European Under 21 ChampionshipGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Ivo Grbić, Josip Posavec, Adrian Šemper
Defenders: Filip Uremović, Borna Sosa, Nikola Katić, Filip Benković, Branimir Kalaica, Toni Borevković, Domagoj Bradarić
Midfielders: Ivan Šunjić, Nikola Vlašić, Marin Jakoliš, Alen Halilović, Luka Ivanušec, Lovro Majer, Kristijan Bistrović, Toma Bašić, Robert Murić, Nikola Moro
Forwards: Josip Brekalo, Sandro Kulenović, Marijan Čabraja
Reiss Nelson has been named in England's U21 squadGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Angus Gunn, Dean Henderson, Freddie Woodman
Defenders: Jake Clarke-Salter, Jay Dasilva, Lloyd Kelly, Jonjoe Kenny, Ezri Konsa, Fikayo Tomori, Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Forwards: Tammy Abraham, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Demarai Gray, Reiss Nelson, Dominic Solanke
Lyon's French forward Moussa Dembele is in France's squadGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Gautier Larsonneur, Maxence Prévot, Paul Bernardoni
Defenders: Kelvin Amian, Ibrahima Konaté, Dayot Upamecano, Colin Dagba, Malang Sarr, Moussa Niakhaté, Anthony Caci
Midfielders: Fodé Ballo-Touré, Lucas Tousart, Romain Del Castillo, Houssem Aouar, Mattéo Guendouzi, Jonathan Ikoné, Ibrahima Sissoko, Olivier Ntcham, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde Jeff Reine-Adélaïde
Forwards: Moussa Dembélé, Jean-Philippe Mateta, Jonathan Bamba, Marcus Thuram
European Under 21 Championship - RomaniaGetty Images
Goalkeepers: Ionuț Radu, Cătălin Cabuz, Daniel Vlad
Defenders: Radu Boboc, Florin-Bogdan Ștefan, Alexandru Pașcanu, Ionuţ Nedelcearu, Cristian Manea, Virgil Ghiţă, Adrian Rus
Midfielders: Ianis Hagi, Vlad Dragomir, Dragoş Nedelcu, Alexandru Cicâldău, Andrei Ciobanu, Tudor Băluţă, Darius Olaru (22)
Forwards: Florinel Coman, Dennis Man, George Puşcaş, Adrian Petre, Denis Drăguş, Andrei Ivan