EURO 2020 play-offs: All you need to know

When are they? Who plays who? How do they work? Records and statistics.

Scotland and Israel also met in the UEFA Nations League  group stage
Scotland and Israel also met in the UEFA Nations League group stage UEFA via Getty Images

What are the play-offs?

Sixteen teams will battle it out for the four remaining UEFA EURO 2020 places in the competition’s new-look play-offs. When completed, we will know all 24 finalists, and all the EURO 2020 group fixtures.

Who plays who, when and where?

Fixtures were determined by a series of draws in November. The teams listed first will host the matches, including finals­ – i.e. the winner of the Bulgaria/Hungary tie will stage the Path A final.

Following a decision made by the UEFA Executive Committee, the European Qualifiers Play-Offs semi-finals will take place on 8 October with the finals to follow on 12 November.

Play-off semi-finals

Path A: Bulgaria v Hungary (20:45), Iceland v Romania (20:45) 
Path B: Bosnia and Herzegovina v Northern Ireland (20:45), Slovakia v Republic of Ireland (20:45)
Path C: Norway v Serbia (20:45), Scotland v Israel (20:45) 
Path D: Georgia v Belarus (18:00), North Macedonia v Kosovo (20:45) 

Play-off finals

Path A: Bulgaria/Hungary v Iceland/Romania (20:45) 
Path B: Bosnia and Herzegovina/Northern Ireland v Slovakia/Republic of Ireland (20:45)
Path C: Norway/Serbia v Scotland/Israel (TBC)
Path D: Georgia/Belarus v North Macedonia/Kosovo (18:00)

Are the play-offs new?

There have been play-offs for five of the last six EUROs, starting with a one-off match between the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland at Anfield for EURO '96. The UEFA EURO 2020 play-offs have a very different format, though. For the first time, teams must come through more than one round and, unlike all previous editions, sides have qualified to participate via the UEFA Nations League rather than the European Qualifiers.

How do the play-offs work?

The 16 UEFA Nations League group winners were guaranteed play-off places before the European Qualifiers. If they advanced via their qualifying groups, their spot went to the next best-ranked team in their league. Where a league did not have four teams to compete (such as League A), remaining slots were allocated to teams from another league, according to the overall UEFA Nations League rankings.

Do teams know who they will potentially play in the EURO finals?

Teams in Paths B and C know:

• Path B winners go to Group E alongside Spain, Sweden, Poland
• Path C winners go to Group D alongside England, Croatia, Czech Republic

Paths A and D are more complicated.

If Romania qualify as Path A winners:

• Romania would go to Group C alongside Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria
• Path D winners would go to Group F alongside Portugal, France, Germany

If Bulgaria, Hungary or Iceland qualify as Path A winners:

• Path A winners would go to Group F alongside Portugal, France, Germany
• Path D winners would go to Group C alongside Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria

EURO play-off ties to date

1996: Republic of Ireland 0–2 Netherlands, Anfield
2000: Scotland 1–2agg England (0–2 1–0)
2000: Israel 0–8agg Denmark (0–5 0–3)
2000: Slovenia 3–2agg Ukraine (2–1 1–1)
2000: Republic of Ireland 1–1agg Turkey (1–1 0–0, Turkey win on away goals)
2004: Scotland 1–6agg Netherlands (1–0 0–6)
2004: Croatia 2–1agg Slovenia (1–1 1–0)
2004: Russia 1–0agg Wales (0–0 1–0)
2004: Latvia 3–2agg Turkey (1–0 2–2)
2004: Spain 5–1agg Norway (2–1 3–0)
2012: Turkey 0–3agg Croatia (0–3 0–0)
2012: Estonia 1–5agg Republic of Ireland (0–4 1–1)
2012: Czech Republic 3–0agg Montenegro (2–0 1–0)
2012: Bosnia and Herzegovina 2–6agg Portugal (0–0 2–6)
2016: Ukraine 3–1agg Slovenia (2–0 1–1)
2016: Sweden 4–3agg Denmark (2–1 2–2)
2016: Bosnia and Herzegovina 1–3agg Republic of Ireland (1–1 0–2)
2016: Norway 1–3agg Hungary (0–1 1–2)

Records and statistics

Most play-off goals

3 Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden)
3 Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland)
3 Jon Dahl Tomasson (Denmark)
3 Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands)
3 Jon Walters (Republic of Ireland)

Biggest play-off win (tie)

Denmark 8–0agg Israel, 1999

Biggest play-off win (match)

Netherlands 6–0 Scotland, 2003

Highest scoring play-off (tie)

Denmark 8–0agg Israel, 1999
Bosnia and Herzegovina 2–6agg Portugal, 2011

Highest scoring play-off (match)

Portugal 6–2 Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2011

Scoring the first goal

The side scoring first has won 14 out of 18 EURO play-off ties, and every tie since 2004. The exceptions:

2000: Slovenia 3–2agg Ukraine (2–1 1–1)
2000: Republic of Ireland 1–1agg Turkey (1–1 0–0, Turkey win on away goals)
2004: Scotland 1–6agg Netherlands (1–0 0–6)
2004: Spain 5–1agg Norway (2–1 3–0)

Losing the first leg

Only one team has ever lost the first leg and advanced in the EURO play-offs: in 2003, the Netherlands overturned a 1-0 defeat in Scotland with a 6-0 win at home.

Play-off hat-tricks

Ruud van Nistelrooy is the only player to score a play-off hat-trick, in the Netherlands' 6-0 second-leg win against Scotland in 2003.

Winning both legs

Only four teams have won both games of a two-leg play-off tie (out of 17):

Denmark (v Israel, 1999)
Spain (v Norway, 2003)
Czech Republic (v Montenegro, 2011)
Hungary (v Norway, 2015)

Play-off winners at EURO finals

• Semi-finals: Netherlands (2004), Portugal (2012)
• Quarter-finals: Netherlands (1996), Turkey (2000), Czech Republic (2012)
• Round of 16: Hungary (2016), Republic of Ireland (2016)

The remaining 11 play-off winners bowed out after the group stage.

EURO play-off record 

Bosnia and Herzegovina*: W0 L2
Croatia: W2 L0
Czech Republic: W1 L0
Denmark: W1 L1
England: W1 L0
Estonia: W0 L1
Hungary*: W1 L0
Israel*: W0 L1
Latvia: W1 L0
Montenegro: W0 L1
Netherlands: W2 L0
Norway*: W0 L2
Portugal: W1 L0
Republic of Ireland*: W2 L2
Russia: W1 L0
Scotland*: W0 L2
Slovenia: W1 L2
Spain: W1 L0
Sweden: W1 L0
Turkey: W1 L2
Ukraine: W1 L1
Wales: W0 L1

*Involved in UEFA EURO 2020 play-offs.

Trivia

• Two teams have scored six goals in their play-off second legs: the Netherlands in 2003 and Portugal in 2011. Both went on to reach the semi-finals at the following summer’s tournament.

• There has never been a goalless play-off tie.

• Patrick Kluivert scored the first play-off goal: for the Netherlands against Ireland on 13 December 1995. He also scored the second!

EURO play-offs: potted history

• EURO ‘96: First play-off sees two runners-up with fewest points meet in a one-off tie at neutral Anfield.

• EURO 2000: Two-legged play-offs introduced, four ties featuring the eighth lowest-ranked qualifying group runners-up.

• EURO 2004: Two-legged play-offs involving all ten qualifying group runners-up.

• EURO 2008: No play-offs.

• EURO 2012: Return to EURO 2000 format, repeated for EURO 2016.

• EURO 2020: Once again there are four two-legged play-off ties though this time sides qualify based on performance in the 2018/19 UEFA Nations League rather than performance in the qualifying groups.

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