After the nail biting performance of the national teams during the international tournament earlier this year, the run up to release of the Euro 2020 schedules were greatly anticipated by fans worldwide. Therefore as earlier this week the fixtures and groupings for the UEFA European Championships Qualifiers 2020 were announced, we thought we would put this article together for our readers. This blog therefore covers how the groups have been drawn and who are expected to be the ones to beat.
What the Euro 2020 Qualifying Groups Look Like
In advance of the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, the qualifiers are to take place in order to determine which 24 teams advance to the Championship. The qualifying tournament runs in addition to the brand new 2018/19 UEFA Nations Cup, which offers an alternative route to qualification for the 2020 tournament. Here is the breakdown of each country that is eligible for a place in the upcoming games and who they are playing against in their groups:
- Group A – England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo
- Group B – Portugal, Ukraine, Serbia, Lithuania, Luxemburg
- 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, FYR Macedonia
- 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
Previous Winners of the Euros Championship
Established in 1960, the UEFA Euros is going into their 15th tournament during 2020. This means that there have been a range of winners who have already fought valiantly to lift the trophy. Below is a breakdown of the national teams which have gained the Champions title and we go more in depth about their win beneath:
- Spain – 3 wins - 1964, 2008 and 2012
- Germany – 3 wins – 1972, 1980 and 1996
- France – 2 wins – 1984 and 2000
- Russia – 1 win - 1960
- Italy – 1 win - 1968
- Netherlands – 1 win - 1988
- Denmark – 1 win - 1992
- Greece – 1 win - 2004
- Portugal – 1 win - 2016
Spain has successfully acquired the UEFA Euros trophy three times in 1964, 2008 and 2012. During the previous World Cup games earlier this year, we can see they failed to advance from the round of 16 after losing to Russia on penalties. However, when reviewing their group for the Euro qualifiers, they should be able to make it through with a win. But when taking a look at the FIFA rankings, we can see that Sweden is their closest competition, which means we could see it go either way during qualification.
Germany has won the Euros Championship three times in total, twice as West Germany, and once as a united country. And looking at the performance of the national team during the most recent tournament, we were shocked to see them get knocked out at the group stages by Mexico and Sweden. So we could either see them rise up to the occasion or we could see them fall short of a win once more. But looking at the group they are in for the qualifiers, we will be surprised if they don’t make it through as they are most definitely the strongest side.
France is currently on a high after winning the World Cup in Russia this year after beating Croatia. However, this could be a boost or a hindrance when it comes to preparing for the Euros qualifiers. We expect to see great things from this squad as they are guaranteed to thrive in their group for the qualifiers. They have also been able to successfully win the Euros two times.
The Soviet Union won the first ever UEFA European Championships back in 1960 and Russia also hosted this year’s World Cup. However, within this tournament despite their valiant effort and local support backing, they unfortunately didn’t see past the quarter finals. This match was against Croatia, to whom they lost against due to penalties. But when it comes to the Euros they are set against Belgium in the group qualifiers. Therefore we do not expect Russia to come first in the group as Belgium is currently top of the FIFA rankings and Russia is at 48.
Italy has also had their moment to shine when winning the Euros back in 1968. But unfortunately, they did not manage to qualify for this year’s World Cup, which begs the question – will the squad be in great form for the Euro qualifiers? As they did not play in the last games, this could be a fantastic motivator for the team and they could pull it out the bag for these upcoming group matches. But looking at who they are up against for the fixtures, they are certainly top and it will be a massive shock to fans if they do not make it through.
Netherlands has been able to get a win at the Euros once during 1988. However, they were unable to qualify for the World Cup 2018, so we have been unable to have a clear look at how the squad is performing. But they did play during the Nations League and acquired first in their group which meant that they advance into the semi-finals to face England. This therefore means that they will have a guaranteed spot for them in the play-offs if they are unable to qualify during these group fixtures. Germany is the strongest team within their group; however we shouldn’t forget that the top two teams can qualify, so Netherlands has a strong shot at qualifying.
Denmark has also lifted the Euros trophy once in 1992. And during the most recent tournament we can see that they were able to make it through to the round of 16, but lost out to Croatia during penalties. In terms of the Euro 2020 qualifiers, Denmark is yet to qualify, but they are eligible for a play-off spot if they do not qualify in the groups. This will most likely be the case as Switzerland is expected to be first in Group D.
Greece won the Euro tournament back in 2004 after defeating Portugal for the title. But unfortunately they didn’t make it to the latest tournament which featured teams worldwide, so we are unable to gauge how they will perform. Within their group they have both Italy and Bosnia and Herzegovina higher than them in the FIFA rankings. And Italy is favourite to win the group qualifiers, which will make the competition for Greece very stiff.
And finally, Portugal is the most recent winner of the European Championships in 2016 and defeated France in the final. Plus with the likes of Ronaldo on their side, we expect them to be a spectacularly strong squad moving forward. But looking at their performance during the World Cup we can see that they lost to Uruguay in the round of 16, and subsequently got knocked out. Despite this, they are almost certain favourites in their group as they are 5th in the FIFA rankings compared to their competitors who are much further down in the list.
Which Groups are the Most and Least Competitive?
Reviewing how the groups have been selected, we can see that the stronger sides have been split up to make the groupings less competitive. This means that smaller teams will most certainly struggle to earn a place in the games. But going by the previous performances of the team’s we are able to place these predictions on which the strongest sides are in each group.
- Group A – England and Czech Republic
- Group B – Portugal and Serbia
- Group C – Netherlands and Germany
- Group D – Switzerland and Denmark
- Group E – Croatia
- Group F – Spain and Sweden
- Group G – Poland
- Group H – France
- Group I – Belgium and Russia
- Group J – Italy and Greece
What are Your Opinions on the Draw?
Now we have had time to process who will feature in which group of the Euro 2020 qualifiers, we want to know your thoughts on the draw. Who are you most looking forward to see face one another? Find us over on our social media pages and get in touch and we will be sure to get back to you!
You can also take a look at our online store – Soccer Box where you can purchase your favourite European football shirt ahead of the games. Or alternatively you can keep an eye on these pages and sign up to our newsletter to be notified when the new launch is for the Euro 2020 jerseys.
This article was written exclusively for Soccer Box by Loren Astbury