Qualifying group stage
The record field of 53 nations are drawn into nine groups of five or six teams. Matches are played on a home-and-away basis between 7 September 2014 and 13 October 2015. The nine group winners, the nine group runners-up and the best third-placed side qualify directly for the final tournament. The eight remaining third-placed teams will contest play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers. For the first time, qualifying takes place under the 'Week of Football' concept, with games played from Thursday to Tuesday.
The four sides with the best UEFA national team coefficient ranking will be seeded with a draw determining the pairing and order of home and away ties. The first legs will be played on 12, 13 and 14 November 2015 and the returns on 15, 16 and 17 November. The teams which score the greater aggregate of goals in each tie qualify for the finals, with away goals and then penalties used to determine the winner in the event of a draw.
France will join 23 qualifiers in the final tournament draw, with the teams drawn into six groups of four teams. The top two and the four best third-placed teams advancing to the round of 16 when it becomes a knockout competition.
Further details, including the criteria for separating teams that finish level on points in a group, or after extra time in a match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
The qualifying round, featuring a record field of 53 nations, is made up of nine groups of five or six teams, who contest home and away fixtures. The nine group winners, the nine group runners-up and the best third-placed side will qualify directly for the final tournament. The eight remaining third-placed teams will contest play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers for the finals.
For the first time, qualifying takes place under the new 'Week of Football' concept, which sees games played from Thursday to Tuesday. Kick-off times will be set mainly at 18.00CET and 20.45CET on Saturdays and Sundays and 20.45CET for Thursdays, Fridays, Mondays and Tuesdays. On double-header matchweeks, teams play on Thursday/Sunday, Friday/Monday or Saturday/Tuesday.
European Qualifiers match dates
MD1: 7/8/9 September 2014
MD2: 9/10/11 October 2014
MD3: 12/13/14 October 2014
MD4: 14/15/16 November 2014
MD5: 27/28/29 March 2015
MD6: 12/13/14 June 2015
MD7: 3/4/5 September 2015
MD8: 6/7/8 September 2015
MD9: 8/9/10 October 2015
MD10: 11/12/13 October 2015
Play-off match dates
First legs: 12/13/14 November 2015
Second legs: 15/16/17 November 2015
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