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UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying: all you need to know

Twenty finalists earned their places via the groups, with another four to come through the new play-off system.

Belgium won all ten of their qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2020
Belgium won all ten of their qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2020 AFP via Getty Images

How does qualifying work?

With 12 countries staging finals matches in 2020, there is no automatic qualification for hosts, meaning that all 55 UEFA nations are competing for the 24 finals berths on offer. The first 20 places were decided by the qualifying group stage, with the top two in each section advancing. The remaining four spots go to the winners of a new play-off system linked to the UEFA Nations League. More on that below.

The qualifying group stage is simple enough, right?

The road to UEFA EURO 2020 explained

Indeed. The qualifying draw took place in Dublin on 2 December 2018. The 55 teams were split into ten groups of either five or six, with four of the five groups of five containing one team that had qualified for the UEFA Nations League Finals. The top two from each group qualified for the EURO final tournament.

Who qualified from the groups?

The 20 sides were assigned to the following pots for the finals draw in Bucharest on 30 November 2019 (check here to see how the seedings were determined):
Pot 1: Belgium, Italy (hosts), England (hosts), Germany (hosts), Spain (hosts), Ukraine
Pot 2: France, Poland, Switzerland,Croatia, Netherlands (hosts), Russia (hosts)
Pot 3: Portugal, Turkey, Denmark (hosts), Austria, Sweden, Czech Republic
Pot 4: Wales, Finland, Play-off winners Paths A, B, C and D

What about the play-offs?

How the play-offs for UEFA EURO 2020 work

It is pretty simple. Each separate League (i.e. A, B, C and D) in the UEFA Nations League has been allocated one UEFA EURO 2020 place. Four sides from each League will contest single-leg semi-finals and a one-off final (entirely specific to the EURO). The winner of each of these four one-off finals gets a ticket to UEFA EURO 2020.

Which teams contest the play-offs?

In theory, the four winners of the quartet of groups that form each of the four Leagues. However, as some UEFA Nations League group winners qualified via the European Qualifiers, their spots went to the next best-ranked teams in their League. Note that at the conclusion of the UEFA Nations League, teams were ranked 1 to 55 according to their position in a group, points gained, goal difference, goals scored, etc.

If a League did not have four teams to compete (eg, 11 of the 12 League A teams qualified automatically), the remaining slots were allocated to sides from another League in accordance with the overall UEFA Nations League rankings.

Play-off fixtures

Path A
Semi-final 1 (1 v 4): Iceland v Romania
Semi-final 2 (2 v 3): Bulgaria v Hungary

The winners of semi-final 2 (Bulgaria or Hungary) will play the final at home.

Path B
Semi-final 1 (1 v 4): Bosnia and Herzegovina v Northern Ireland
Semi-final 2 (2 v 3): Slovakia v Republic of Ireland

The winners of semi-final 1 (Bosnia and Herzegovina or Northern Ireland) will play the final at home.

Path C
Semi-final 1 (1 v 4): Scotland v Israel
Semi-final 2 (2 v 3): Norway v Serbia

The winners of semi-final 2 (Norway or Serbia) will play the final at home.

Path D
Semi-final 1 (1 v 4): Georgia v Belarus
Semi-final 2 (2 v 3): North Macedonia v Kosovo

The winners of semi-final 1 (Georgia or Belarus) will play the final at home.

How does UEFA EURO 2020 work?

The format will be the same as for UEFA EURO 2016, with 24 teams in six groups of four, and the top two in each group progressing to the knockout phase together with the four best third-placed sides. Unlike 2016 (and any other major finals in history), matches will be played across 12 different countries.

Key dates

Memories of UEFA EURO 2016

21–23/03/2019: Matchday one
: Matchday two
: Matchday three
: Matchday four
: Matchday five
: Matchday six
: Matchday seven
: Matchday eight
: Matchday nine
: Matchday ten
: European Qualifiers play-off draw
: UEFA EURO 2020 final tournament draw, Bucharest