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Low's new Germany comes at a price

Germany
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ESPN FC  By ESPN

UEFA to stick with 24 teams at Euro 2020 despite criticism over format

UEFA intends to stick with 24 teams for Euro 2020 despite Germany coach Joachim Low and defender Mats Hummels criticising the expansion.

More teams than ever competed at this summer's tournament in France, meaning four third-placed sides joined the winners and runners-up from the six groups to form a round of 16.

It was a convoluted process that meant just eight teams went home after the group stage, but UEFA has defended the format and intends to keep it in place for Euro 2020.

"The decision has been made to go for 24 and all the preparations for 2020 are with 24 teams," UEFA general secretary ad interim Theodore Theodoridis said, when asked if it could go back to 16 teams or even be expanded to 32.

"But this particular committee is constantly reviewing the different elements and comes with proposals.

"But for 2020, we will go for 24. For 2024, it is wide open and it will be a proposal that is a very interesting discussion because there are pluses and minuses for every format.

"We have to see the overall picture of the competition -- not only the final tournament but also the qualifiers.

"If you ask me about 32, I am confident that we have more than 32 very competitive teams in Europe.

"But a format of 32 would kill the qualifiers so it is balance, you have to consider a little bit of everything."

Theodoridis, who said UEFA expects to make a record profit of €830 million after expanding, pledged that the Competitions Committee would analyse the current format and address concerns, both in terms of the impact on players and the quality.

Low and Hummels were in agreement that the quality wasn't up to par because of the increased number of teams, as Germany faced Ukraine, Poland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia and Italy on their way to the semifinal before eventually losing to France.

"I think 24 teams are too many," Low said on ZDF. "The World Cup's going to be increased to 40 teams and it's getting more and more, and that's a problem in the long term.

"Sometimes you get the feeling it's not doing football any good. The quality is suffering."

Hummels played in every one of Germany's games at this summer's tournament until he had to sit out of the semifinal after picking up two yellow cards, earning a one-match suspension.

And despite only conceding one goal during the five games he did play -- and that was a penalty against Italy -- he was unimpressed at the opposition's lack of interest in attacking.

"The level at this European Championship was not what we had hoped for," Hummels told reporters.

"There were many teams who didn't want to do anything with the ball and just packed men behind the ball."

Despite dissatisfaction at the quality of the teams Germany had faced in the tournament, Hummels did admit they final met their match against France in the semifinal.

"We had to play to our highest level and you can't keep opponents like France in their own half for minutes on end," he said.

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