Portugal take on England and Netherlands face Scotland in the two semi-finals of the UEFA Under-17 Championship at the National Stadium on Sunday, kick-off at 17:45 and 20:45 respectively.
Considering the teams’ performances in the group stage, Portugal and England were the early favourites for winning the tournament but the first semi-final puts the two teams against each other and therefore one will therefore bow out on Sunday evening.
Photos: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
Portugal, who won the UEFA Under-17 Championship in 2003 and the Under-16 Championship in 1989, 1995, 1996 and 2000, claimed maximum points from the Qualifying Round mini-tournament after defeating Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia and then maximum points from the Elite Round mini-tournament, defeating Latvia, Ukraine and Iceland. In Malta, they beat Scotland 2-0, Switzerland 1-0 and Germany 1-0. Interesting to note that in nine matches, they suffered just one goal.
England, winners of the UEFA Under-17 Championship in 2010, won the three matches in the Qualifying Round beating Armenia, Gibraltar and Ireland and the three matches in the Elite Round, defeating the Czech Republic, Albania and Italy. In Malta, they beat Malta 3-0 and Turkey 4-1 before losing 0-2 to the Netherlands.
In the second semi-final, Group A winners Netherlands take on Group B runners-up Scotland.
The Netherlands, who won the UEFA Under-17 Championship twice – in 2011 and 2012, won the Qualifying Round mini-tournament after beating the Faroe Islands, Georgia and San Marino and the Elite Round mini-tournament thanks to wins over Austria, Sweden and France. In the final tournament, they registered another three wins, beating Turkey 3-2, Malta 5-2 and England 2-0.
Scotland, on the other hand, may be considered as the surprise of this tournament after eliminating Germany and Switzerland beating them 1-0 and 3-1 respectively after a 0-2 defeat to Portugal in the opening match. In the Qualifying Round, they beat Slovenia and Hungary and were held in a draw by Wales while in the Elite Round, they registered three wins over Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium and Romania.
In these semi-finals, if the result is still draw at the end of the 80 minutes, there will be no extra-time and penalty-kicks will determine the winner.
The final will be played on Wednesday at the National Stadium, kick-off at 19:00.