The Netherlands' failure to qualify for this summer's European Under-21 Championships means that the holders will not be able to defend their trophy.
Two years ago the Dutch beat Serbia 4-1 to win the tournament for a second successive year following their victory against Ukraine in 2006.
Their absence has left the tournament wide open with Italy, sportsbook favourites Spain, England, Germany and Serbia all having claims to win the trophy.
Belarus, Finland and Sweden are the dark horses but the two-week extravaganza could be won by anyone with the Swedes having the advantage of hosting the tournament.
They could benefit from not having to qualify and have been placed in the easier of the two groups, being paired with Belarus, who they face in their opening fixture, Italy and Serbia.
Belarus are the rank outsiders of the competition but did beat Turkey in a play-off and will be looking to Dmitri Komarovski to score their goals after he found the net four times in qualifying.
Italy, coached by Pierluigi Casiraghi, won seven of their ten qualifiers and have Internazionale striker Mario Balotelli among their ranks.
They are the most successful country in the history of the competition with five wins, including three in the 1990s.
Serbia topped their qualifying group ahead of Belarus before beating Denmark in the play-offs with star man Gojko Kacar scoring five goals in the 8-0 hammering of Hungary.
Group B appears on paper to be the tougher group with England, Germany, Spain and Finland all attempting to finish in the top two and moving into the semi-finals.
England only conceded one goal in their eight qualifiers and Stuart Pearce has a wealth of talent at his disposal with Premier League regulars Gabriel Agbonlahor, Theo Walcott, James Milner, Micah Richards and Lee Cattermole in his squad.
Finland are the group outsiders although they did do well to come through a qualifying group that included Denmark and Scotland before knocking Austria out in the play-offs.
Germany struggled to qualify but will be keen to taste success in a competition they have never won, particularly as they have been runners-up on three occasions, in 1978, 1980, and 1982.
Spain could be the team to back as they aim to replicate their senior team's success at Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland last summer.
They won their group with a 100 per cent record and only conceded two goals in the process.
Although they struggled to get past Switzerland in the play-offs, they have a wealth of talent in their squad including Atletico Madrid's Jose Manuel Jurado and Barcelona's Bojan Krkic.