What is the Euro 2020 qualifying draw and when do games begin?
Euro 2020 qualifying begins in 2019. Find out the groups, when and where the matches will be.
What are the groups?
There are five groups of five nations, and five groups of six.
GROUP A: England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo
GROUP B: Portugal, Ukraine, Serbia, Lithuania, Luxembourg
GROUP C: Netherlands, Germany, Northern Ireland, Estonia, Belarus
GROUP D: Switzerland, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Georgia, Gibraltar
GROUP E: Croatia, Wales, Slovakia, Hungary, Azerbaijan
GROUP F: Spain, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Faroe Islands, Malta
GROUP G: Poland, Austria, Israel, Slovenia, Macedonia, Latvia
GROUP H: France, Iceland, Turkey, Albania, Moldova, Andorra
GROUP I: Belgium, Russia, Scotland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, San Marino
GROUP J: Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein
How was the seeding decided?
It was based on UEFA Nations League performance, with the nations ranked from 1 to 55 on position within each League and total points.
The winners of the UEFA Nations League will be seeded No. 1, with the fourth-placed team No. 4.
Second-placed teams in League A were ranked 5-8, and third-placed teams 9-12. This continued down through all four leagues.
The teams were then divided into a UNL pot (England, Portugal, Switzerland, Netherlands), and six other pots.
What were the draw restrictions?
There were several, as set out by UEFA. Some of these relate to winter venues and excessive travel, which saw Latvia moved to Group G from Group F because of winter conditions, with Malta replacing them.
Only two host nations can be in any one group to allow all 12 a chance of qualifying automatically -- that helped Republic of Ireland avoid Group C, but doomed Northern Ireland to game against Netherlands and Germany instead.
There were also three prohibited team clashes, which did not come to light:
Bosnia and Herzegovina/Kosovo
How many teams qualify for Euro 2020?
24 - 20 automatically and four through the playoff system.
The top two teams in each group qualify automatically. There are no playoff places awarded through the usual qualifying path. These are allocated solely on UEFA Nations League performance to teams who do not qualify directly.
When will the games be played?
The match dates in 2019 are as follows:
So how do the Euro 2020 playoffs work?
This is where it gets a little confusing. In its purest form, the winners of all 16 groups across the four UEFA Nations League levels will go to the playoffs, which will take place in March 2020. Each playoff will have four nations, with semifinals and a final. One nation from each League will qualify, meaning we will see at least one team from the weaker Leagues C and D at Euro 2020.
However, 20 teams will qualify automatically.
When a group winner has already qualified for the Euros, the next best-ranked team in that League takes the place. This does not mean the second-placed team in that same group automatically gets the place. It will go to the second-placed team in that League with the best record (points, then goal difference).
The playoffs will be filled up beginning with League D, going through to League A.
As Leagues C and D have the weakest nations it is almost certain that these playoff paths will be composed of teams from that particular League. This is because it is very unlikely that fewer than four teams from these two Leagues will fail to qualify automatically.
Then we come onto Leagues A and B. With 20 teams qualifying automatically, and 24 teams in the strongest two Leagues, it is highly probable that most, if not all, nations that qualify direct to Euro 2020 will come from here. It also means that eight teams in League C may well get a playoff, due to the need to fill up empty places in the paths for Leagues A and B.
Once UEFA has gone from League D to A and tried to fill up the playoffs, it will know how many more teams it needs to find to complete the 16 playoff slots. These will be filled using the 1-55 UEFA Nations League rankings, as noted earlier, taking the highest-ranked team(s) yet to qualify or be assigned a playoff place.
The ranked order in which teams will be granted a playoff, should they need it, is as follows:
League A: England, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Germany, Iceland
League B: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland
League C: Scotland, Norway, Serbia, Finland, Bulgaria, Israel, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania
League D: Georgia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Belarus, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta, San Marino
If a League playoff contains a group winner, but fewer than four teams from that League, the playoff path cannot be completed by team(s) from a higher League. So if League B only has three teams who need a playoff, but one of those teams is a group winner, it must be filled up with a team from League C.
Once the additional nations have been selected they will be drawn into a spare place in a League. The draw would not be necessary if UEFA only has to fill up one empty position.
The playoffs will be played on March 26-28 and 29-31 in 2020, just a few months before the finals themselves.
The best-ranked team in the playoff path will be at home to the fourth-ranked team, and the second-best ranked team will host the third-best. All games are one-off matches, and not two-legged.
So, for instance, if no group winners from Group C qualify then the playoff semifinals would be Scotland vs. Finland and Norway vs. Serbia.
If, say, Serbia qualified automatically, then the playoffs would be Scotland vs. Bulgaria and Norway vs. Finland.
For Group D we would see Georgia vs. Belarus and Macedonia vs. Kosovo if none of them qualifies automatically.
The home team in the final from the two semifinals will be drawn in November 2019 and will not be based on ranking.
Who is guaranteed a playoff?
The following teams are assured of a playoff should they not qualify automatically.
League A: England, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland
League B: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Sweden, Ukraine
League C: Finland, Norway, Scotland, Serbia
League D: Georgia, Belarus, Kosovo, Macedonia
When is Euro 2020 and where is it played?
The finals will be hosted across Europe for this edition of the European Championship, running from June 12 to July 12.
Group A: Stadio Olimpico, Rome (Italy) and Olympic Stadium, Baku (Azerbaijan)
Group B: Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg (Russia) and Parken Stadium, Copenhagen (Denmark)
Group C: Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Arena Naționala, Bucharest (Romania)
Group D: Wembley Stadium, London (England) and Hampden Park, Glasgow (Scotland)
Group E: San Mames, Bilbao (Spain) and Aviva Stadium, Dublin (Republic of Ireland)
Group F: Allianz Arena, Munich (Germany) and Ferenc Puskas Stadium, Budapest (Hungary)
Round of 16: Wembley Stadium, London (England), Parken Stadium, Copenhagen (Denmark), Arena Naționala, Bucharest (Romania), Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Aviva Stadium, Dublin (Republic of Ireland), San Mames, Bilbao (Spain), Ferenc Puskas Stadium, Budapest (Hungary), Hampden Park, Glasgow (Scotland)
Quarterfinals: Allianz Arena, Munich (Germany), Olympic Stadium, Baku (Azerbaijan), Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg (Russia), Stadio Olimpico, Rome (Italy)
Semifinals and final: Wembley Stadium, London (England)