The UEFA European Under-21 Championship, also known amongst fans as the UEFA Euro U-21s or the Under-21 Euros, and is a professional football competition for men under the age of 21 (hence the name!), held every 2 years. However, 21-year-olds are also allowed to participate.
The UEFA European U-21 Championship 2021 will take place in Slovenia and Hungary from 24 March to 6 June 2021. The tournament will be played in two phases: The group stage (24 to 31 March) and the final round (31 March to 6 June).
The championship has been around since 1978. However, prior to its current form, the championship was known as the UEFA European Under-23 Championship, and accepted players up to the age of 23. This championship was short-lived, starting in 1972 until being revamped in 1978.
The change was made because UEFA saw the gap between the age limits of the then-under-18 championship (it is now known as the UEFA European Under-19 Championship) and the under-23 championship was too large. The championship has remained the same since then!
The Professionals of Tomorrow!
It's without a doubt that the youth of today are the men and women of tomorrow. The same definitely applies to football! The young players of today are the professional footballers of tomorrow! If you think the journey from young player to professional is exciting, why don't you give the U-21 Euros on TV a go?
No TV sport fan would ever deny that football is one of the most exhilarating live sports on TV today, so why not add to the excitement? Besides, don't let their age fool you: the U-21s are all excellent players, providing some great live football on TV today!
Format of Championship
From the championship's inception until 1998, the participating teams were divided into 8 qualification groups. The winners of each group would play in the quarter-finals. Before 1994, there were no countries that hosted the championship, instead using a home-and-away system.
However, in 1994, France was chosen to host the semi-finals. Since then, the host system has been favoured and different countries have been chosen to host the finals tournament. As the championship grew in popularity, so did the number of participants.
In fact, in 1998, 9 qualification groups had to be used as the number of participants that year (46) was almost double that of the championship's beginning (24). Then, in 2004. 10 qualification groups were used as the number of participants was finally double that of 1978.
After 2006, the championship started being hosted on odd years, first in 2007. The change was made because senior teams often promoted players from the under-21 teams as reserves rather than allowing them to play in the under-21 championship. The change prevented this from happening again.
Finally, the last changes to the competition came in 2017 and 2019. 2015 was the final year with 8 final teams, and in 2017 the number of participants in the finals was increased to 12 teams. Then, in 2019, it was increased once again to 16 teams, starting in 2021.
The Golden Boot is a prestigious award which isn't unique to the under-21 championship, and in fact, was introduced only in 2000, rather late in the championship's existence. The European Golden Boot is the award reserved for the top goalscorer in league matches.
However, there's a different award for the under-21 championship, awarded also to the top goalscorer of the championship, and it's known as the adidas Golden Boot. Since 2013, there have been 2 other awards introduced: the adidas Silver Boot and the adidas Bronze Boot, which are given to runner-ups.
Those who strive to win the Golden Boot would earn even more esteem if they managed to beat the record set by Marcus Berg in 2009: 7 goals scored! With such an illustrious award in the balance, players will do their best to win, or deny other players from winning it, making U-21 Euros on TV so much more exciting!
Ever since 1998, the qualification phase has changed: that year, the 7 best teams were chosen as quarter-finalists, whilst the 8th and 9th best teams played off for the last spot. Then, in 2000, the qualification phase was extended so that winning in the qualification phase no longer guaranteed a spot in the quarter-finals.
Instead, 9 winners and 7 runner-ups played off for the quarter-final spots that year! Then, when 10 qualification groups were used, 10 winners and 6 runner-ups played off. After the switch to odd years, host countries started being chosen ahead and were automatically qualified for the quarter-finals.
So, for example, in 2007, the Netherlands, who were chosen to host the finals tournament, automatically qualified for the quarter-finals. That year had a unique qualification phase: the first qualification round eliminated the 8 lowest ranking teams. The remainder were put into 14 groups of 3.
The 14 group winners then played off for the remaining 7 quarter-final spots, excluding the host country. Then, between 2009 and 2015, the previous format was used, but with 10 winners and 4 runner-ups playing off. Afterwards, the amount of qualifying teams was increased.
Notable Records and Top Scorers
The top scorer thus far is Marcus Berg, who scored an astounding 7 goals in 2009! Then, not that far behind, were Adrián López Álvarez and Saúl Ñíguez Esclápez who, in 2011 and 2017 respectively, both scored 5 goals. Impressive, but not enough to beat Berg's record!
The country that currently holds the most amount of titles won in the under-21 championship is Italy, with 5 titles under its belt! Italy also has the impressive record of having won the championship 3 times in a row, thus having defended their title twice!
Not far behind them is Spain, who won the championship 4 times! And then, there are Germany, England, Netherlands, and Russia who are tied with winning the championship twice! Moreover, Italy also holds the record of being in the top four (either winners, runner-ups or semi-finalists) a total of 12 times!
U-21 Fixtures on TV
Ready for some thrilling live football on TV? We bet you're excited to watch the Under-21 Euros! Make sure to look up live football on TV fixtures, like England 21 fixtures, to catch every match of this fantastic championship on TV! Live football on TV can't get any more exciting!