EURO 2020: How did the qualification process work?

With the 16th edition of the European Championships set to begin from June 11, know how the 24 teams qualified

Selection via the traditional qualification process of the first 20 teams was the easy part. The main complexity was in deciding the remaining four places.   -  AP

Main qualification process

With no automatic qualification, the main process started in March 2019. 

The 55 nations of the UEFA were segregated into five groups of six teams and five groups of five. 

Each team played a home and away match against the other teams in its respective group with the top two teams becoming the first 20 teams (Out of 24) to qualify. 

Selection via the traditional qualification process of the first 20 teams was the easy part while the complexity was in deciding the remaining four places.

Introduction of the Nations League - how it offered an alternative route to Euro 2020

The 2018-19 UEFA Nations Leagues was the inaugural edition of the tournament. It was a competition between the national teams of the 55 member associations of the UEFA. The main aim behind this initiative by UEFA was to do away with a considerable chunk of international friendlies and promote more competitive matches between national sides. 

The competition was also devised as an alternative route of qualification for Euro 2020. 

The 55 Countries were split into groups across four leagues. The four winners of the top-ranked League A qualified for the Nations League Finals held in June 2019. The teams that did not make it went through a process of promotion and relegation with the ultimate prize being a route to Euro 2020.

How were the four groups formed?

The 55 member associations were split into four Leagues according to their respective coefficients, with those rankings again used to subdivide them into pots. The teams were then drawn into groups in January, as follows:

League A:

Group 1: Germany, France, Netherlands (Qualified to nations league finals)

Group 2: Belgium, Switzerland (Qualified to nations league finals), Iceland

Group 3: Portugal (Qualified to nations league finals), Italy, Poland

Group 4: Spain, England (Qualified to nations league finals), Croatia

League B: 

Group 1: Slovakia, Ukraine (Promotion to League A), Czech Republic

Group 2: Russia*, Sweden (Promotion to League A), Turkey

Group 3: Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina (Promotion to League A), Northern Ireland

Group 4: Wales, Republic of Ireland, Denmark (Promotion to League A)

*Russia initially drawn in Group 1 but moved as it could not share a group with Ukraine

League C:  

Group 1: Scotland, (Promotion to League B), Albania, Israel (Promotion to League B)

Group 2: Hungary (Promotion to League B), Greece, Finland (Promotion to League B), Estonia

Group 3: Slovenia, Norway*, Bulgaria (Promotion to League B), Cyprus (Promotion to League B)

Group 4: Romania (Promotion to League B), Serbia (Promotion to League B), Montenegro, Lithuania

*Norway initially drawn in Group 2 but moved due to winter scheduling fears

League D:  

Group 1: Georgia (Promotion to League C), Latvia, Kazakhstan (Promotion to League C), Andorra

Group 2: Belarus, Luxembourg, Moldova,  (The first three teams Promoted to League C), San Marino

Group 3: Azerbaijan (Promotion to League C), Faroe Islands, Malta, Kosovo (Promotion to League C)

Group 4: Macedonia (Promotion to League C), Armenia (Promotion to League C), Liechtenstein, Gibraltar

What were the restrictions?

Ukraine and Russia were kept apart and no group was allowed to contain more than two of Norway, Finland, Estonia and Lithuania due to "winter venue restrictions".

Because of "excessive travel restrictions", any League D group contained a maximum of one of these pairs: Andorra and Kazakhstan, Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan, Gibraltar and Kazakhstan, Gibraltar and Azerbaijan. Furthermore, Armenia and Azerbaijan were kept apart in the bottom division.

The Nations League finals

Portugal, Netherlands, England and Switzerland qualified for the finals. The final was fought between Portugal and the Netherlands, where Portugal emerged as the winner of the inaugural nations league. England won the third-place play-offs against Switzerland.

How did it work?

While group winners of League A competed in the Nations League Finals – which featured semi-finals, a third-place match and the final hosted by Portugal– the victors in Leagues B, C and D gained promotion and the bottom sides from Leagues A, B and C were supposed to be relegated initially but after the format was revamped, relegation was scrapped away with. 

The second season will take place in 2020-21.

Euro 2020 qualification through Nations League

The main principle of the qualifiers remained the same. Instead of best third-placed teams advancing to the play-offs, that particular stage was contested by the 16 Nations League group winners. If any of them already qualified for Euro 2020, their place was taken by the next best-ranked team.

Which 24 teams have qualified?

The 20 teams that qualified via the groups including the four play-off winners are:

  • Group A: Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland
  • Group B: Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia
  • Group C: Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, North Macedonia
  • Group D: England, Croatia, Scotland, Czech Republic
  • Group E: Spain, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia
  • Group F: Hungary, Portugal, France, Germany
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