The line up for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship was completed on Wednesday as Italy, Serbia and Germany won their play-offs to join England, Finland, Belarus and Spain alongside hosts Sweden in next summer's eight-team final tournament, the draw for which takes place on Wednesday 3 December at the Svenska Mässan exhibition centre in Gothenburg.
Germany drama If the qualifying campaign is any indication of what can be expected next summer then Sweden will play host to a memorable tournament after the play-offs delivered a succession of sparkling ties. There had been plenty of drama in Tuesday's second-legs: Finland defeated Austria on penalties to reach the final tournament for the first time, two-time champions Spain saw off Switzerland in extra-time, Belarus overturned a first-leg deficit to beat Turkey and Wales pushed England, semi-finalists in 2007, to the limit. There was no let up on Wednesday as Germany, who have never won at this level, knocked out France courtesy of Benedikt Höwedes's 90th-minute strike in Metz as Dieter Eilts's team return to the finals for the first time since 2006.
Holders out In Wednesday's other ties, five-times champions Italy had a smoother ride, defeating Israel 3-1 in Tel-Aviv to advance by the same scoreline on aggregate, while Serbia were 1-0 winners against Denmark for the second time in five days. Serbia were defeated by the Netherlands in the 2007 final in Groningen, but there will be a new name on the trophy this time round as Foppe de Haan's side, winners in both 2006 and 2007, will not be on hand to defend their title.
Marathon campaign It is a measure of the high standard of the qualifying tournament that the Netherlands were unable to progress from their group. Wednesday's matches bring to an end a marathon qualifying campaign that involved 51 nations and began on 31 May 2007, ten days before the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in the Netherlands had even kicked off. According to England manager Stuart Pearce, whose side went ten matches undefeated to reach the finals, just getting to Sweden is an achievement before the hard work starts again ahead of the final tournament which runs from 15 to 29 June 2009.
'Tough' "We're pleased to be through – there are only eight teams left now," Pearce said after his side's 5-4 aggregate win against Wales. "It is the hardest qualification campaign of anything in football I can think of. The top teams go through when you are qualifying for a World Cup or a European championship, here Spain won every game [in the group stage] and are still in a play-off, we've won seven out of eight and been unbeaten and still we had to go through [a tough encounter] against the Welsh. Wales won their group but still they are pitted against England. It is difficult. There will be eight good teams there because the qualification and the play-off situation is so tough to actually get there."
Qualified nations for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship: Belarus, England, Finland, Germany, Italy, Serbia, Spain, Sweden*
The draw for the final tournament takes place on Wednesday 3 December at the Svenska Mässan exhibition centre in Gothenburg.
The New Arena Club: Malmö FF (after finals) Capacity: 21,000 Matches: 3 Group A matches, final Population: 281,934 Website: http://www.malmo.se/
Built at a coast of €62m in time for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, the Malmö New Arena will become home to Malmö FF after the finals. It will replace the adjacent Malmö Stadion, the club's home since 1958 and witness to 13 Allsvenskan league titles and, in the late 1970s, one of the best teams Sweden has ever produced. Under English coach Bob Houghton the side broke new ground and reached the 1978/79 European Champion Clubs' Cup final, narrowly losing to Nottingham Forest FC.
How to get there The stadium is located south of the main city centre, in a very green residential area. It is a 20 minute walk from the central station, or around 10 minutes from the bus station. Bus number 2 runs close to the stadium, although these get very busy before the game. A taxi from the central station will cost around 75Skr.
For a more detailed overview of who plays where in Malmo go to Footiemap.com.
Getting around The city centre is relatively small and it is easier to walk than wait for the local buses. Trains run to the outskirts of the city, and on to places such as Trelleborg and Helsingborg. A new railway tunnel is being constructed under the city centre at the moment that will alleviate some of the congestion in the city centre.
Despite being in a different country, Copenhagen’s main airport is the nearest airport, located around 15 miles to the west of Malmö across the Øresund Bridge. Easyjet are the main budget carrier to fly to Copenhagen. They fly here daily from London Stansted. BA and SAS also fly here from London Heathrow. Snowflake, SAS’s budget brand fly twice daily from London City. Sterlingare Denmark’s biggest Budget airline – they fly three times a day from London Gatwick.
To get to Malmö from Kastrup airport, catch one of the three trains per hour from the station under terminal 3. The journey time is 23 minutes. A single ticket costs around £8. A bus also runs from the airport costing 100DKr.
Ryanair fly into Malmö’s small and compact Sturup airport. Despite the fact that the airport is located across the water in Sweden, the completion of the Øresund Bridge, means the two countries are now permanently linked. It is approximately 17 miles from the city centre. Buses link the airport to the city centre, taking around 40 minutes.
The Goteborg Arena Club: IFK Göteborg, GAIS Göteborg, Örgryte IS Capacity: 17,800 Matches: 3 Group B matches, semi-final Population: 510,000 Website: www.goteborg.se
Construction on the Göteborg Arena began in January 2007, and after the UEFA European Under-21 Championship it will become the home for three clubs: GAIS Göteborg, IFK Göteborg and Örgryte IS. Built on the site of the now demolished Gamla Ullevi (Old Ullevi), it is owned by the three clubs and will also become home to the Swedish women's national team.
How to get there The stadium is located no more than a five minute walk away from the central station and so public transport is really not needed. From the station turn left onto Drottningtorget, then right once you get into the one way system. When this road crosses Ullevigaten turn left and the stadium is 200metres on the right hand side. You will pass the construction site of the new Ullevi stadium on the way. If you are heading for the Valhalla, simply walk past the Ullevi and carry on until you see the Indoor arena - turn left here and the stadium in 100 yards on the left, with the ticket office and turnstiles straight in front.
Getting around Göteborg has one of Europe’s best Tram networks with 13 lines that cover the majority of the city. The main hub is Well Park (Brunnsparken) where trams radiate out to every corner of the city. Buses also run around the city from the Nils Ericsson bus terminal. The Göteborgs Passet covers all public transport and attraction entry for 225 SKR per day. The card is available from ticket machines at major stops and the Tourist Information Office at Kungsportsplatsen 2.
The main airport serving Göteborg is located around 20km east of the city in the small town of Landvetter. It served over 5million passengers in 2006 making it Sweden’s second biggest airport. The airport is well served by UK airlines including City Airline from Birmingham and Manchester, SAS from London Heathrow as well as British Airways. To reach the city centre from the airport catch one of the regular Flygbussarna buses that take 30 minutes to reach Göteborg Central Station. A single ticket costs 80 SEK.
Göteborg’s second airport is actually more central – located just 14km north west of the city centre. Thanks to the arrival of Ryanair in 2005, passenger numbers rose from 10,000 to over 500,000 in one year. The Irish carrier currently flies here daily from Dublin, London Stansted and Glasgow Prestwick. A bus service meets every inbound flight and takes passengers to the main train station in 20 minutes. Tickets cost 50SEK one way
The Olympia Stadion The Olympia Stadion is one of the most atmospheric stadiums in the Swedish top division. It can hardly be called traditional as it is a mixture of the old and new, perched on a hill high above the historic port city of Helsingborg. The stadium was originally opened in 1898 as a multi-sport venue and was further developed during the 1990’s when the main stand and east stand were rebuilt, and the athletics track removed.
The stadium is one of the most famous in Swedish football, and unusually the hardcore fans can be seen to congregate in one particular corner on both the terrace and the seated area. The views from the main stand and the east stand are very good, although the setting sun during the summer months does cause an issue for those seated in the latter. Away supporters are located in the corner of the north stand terrace. Expect lots of co-ordinated singing and a few ticker-tape showers.
Club: Helsingborgs IF Capacity: 16,673 Matches: 3 Group A matches, semi-final. Population: 91,457 Website: http://www.helsingborg.com/
One of the oldest football grounds in Sweden, the Olympia Stadion has a rich history. Built in 1898, it was a venue for the 1958 FIFA World Cup and UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 1995™, and has undergone several renovations, most recently in 1997 and 2001. It has lost little of its original charm, though it will be modernised again in 2009.
How to get there Most visitors will arrive at the central station which is close to the ferry terminal and adjacent to the bus station. If the weather is nice then the best way to reach the stadium is to walk through the pedestrian area opposite the station, stopping at a few hostelries along the way before taking one of the paths that wind their way up the steep hill. Once you are in the park area, keep heading eastwards and the stadium will come into view behind the houses. The walk from the station takes around 15 minutes. There are a number of special buses laid on for the football that run from the bus station.
Getting around Helsingborg is very compact and you will really not need any public transport once you arrive unless you are planning on going up the coast towards Gothenburg, or southwards towards Landskrona and Mälmo. Local buses will get you a bit further a field if you need to – they run from the central bus station which is attached to the train station.
Despite being in a different country, Copenhagen’s main airport is the nearest airport, located around 60 miles to the south across the Øresund Bridge. It has three terminals – two dedicated to international and intercontinental flights, and the remote Terminal 1 is dedicated to internal flights. Easyjet are the main budget carrier to fly to Copenhagen. They fly here daily from London Stansted.
BA and SAS also fly here from London Heathrow. Snowflake, SAS’s budget brand fly twice daily from London City. Sterlingare Denmark’s biggest Budget airline – they fly three times a day from London Gatwick.
From Copenhagen Airport train station under terminal 3 you can catch an hourly train direct to Helsingborg. The journey takes around 75 minutes – but make sure you are in the right carriage as the train often divides at Mälmo Central. A return ticket costs 265DKR.
Club: Halmstads BK, IS Halmia Capacity: TBC Matches: 3 Group B matches Population: 90,000 Website: http://www.halmstad.se/
One of Sweden's oldest venues, the Örjans Vall Stadium is steeped in more than eight decades of football history. Built in 1922, it has provided the backdrop to Halmstads BK's four Allsvenskan titles, and is also home to IS Halmia. It also played host to two games at the FIFA World Cup in 1958.
Venue guide A bustling city of 90,000 inhabitants, Halmstad is best known for its picturesque coastline where the unspoilt Tylosand beach is a popular destination for Swedish and foreign holidaymakers alike. Founded just over seven centuries ago, Halmstad's position on Sweden's west coast saw it flourish in the Middle Ages, and vestiges of the ancient settlement remain at the city's Norre Port (Northern Gate) surrounded by ramparts constructed in the 17th Century. Halmstad castle also dates from the same era, built by King Christian IV of Denmark, before Sweden finally won the tug-of-war with its neighbour over the city in 1676.
Final tournament - Group Stage Fixtures
15/06/09 Grp B Spain 20:45 Germany - Gamla Ullevi, Gothenburg