France will begin their defence of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Austria early next month as the qualifying round for the 2010/11 competition kicks off.
The holders lifted the trophy on home soil in July and their Group 12 campaign gets under way on 8 October with the host country, San Marino and Montenegro providing the opposition. Two other sections – Group 8, featuring England, Cyprus, Albania and hosts Belgium – and Group 13, in which 2008 champions Germany welcome Switzerland, Andorra and Northern Ireland – start the same day.
The qualifying round will by then be in full swing, with Group 2 the first to kick off on 28 September, Scotland, Norway and Liechtenstein travelling to Estonia. The team France beat to win the 2009/10 final, Spain, are in Group 11 and start their bid for a fifth title against Israel, Lithuania and Armenia while Croatia, semi-finalists in Basse-Normandie last season, take on Italy, Latvia and the Faroe Islands in Group 7.
The final one of the 13 sections features hosts Hungary, Poland, Moldova and Finland and runs for five days from 25 October. The top two in each qualifying round section, plus the two third-placed sides with the best record against the top two in their group, will progress to the elite round, which will be played in the spring of 2011 after the draw takes place in Nyon, Switzerland, on 30 November. The winners of the seven elite round sections will join hosts Romania in next summer's final tournament.