Euro 2020 Knockout Phase: Who's In and Out of the Last 16?
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Calculators, abucases and Excel documents at the ready folks, it's time to dive into the labyrinthine complexities of Euro 2020 knockout round qualification. Actually it's not that complicated but anything more than the top two going through can feel like an exercise in unnecessary confusion when the games are coming at you as thick and fast as they do at the European Championships.
Before Euro 2016 UEFA decided to expand the competition to 24 teams, split into six groups of four. Unfortunately that format does not a simple passage to the knockout rounds make, so in addition to the top two from each of the groups an additional four teams, who finished third in their group with the best record, will be added to bring up the numbers.
Half of the groups have completed their fixtures which means the equation for qualification is becoming clearer. Let's dive into the groups and work out what's what.
Qualified: Italy, Wales, Switzerland
Italy cruised through the group stages with three wins, seven goals scored and none conceded while Wales were trailing in their wake on four points. Ultimately it was the fact that they were the only team not to lose 3-0 to the Italians that was enough to secure second spot for Rob Page's side with four points and a goal difference of plus one.
Switzerland, who drew with Wales in the opening round of games, finished third by virtue of their goal difference. However with the third-placed teams from Group B and C having only registered three points the Swiss are guaranteed a last 16 berth. They will face either Belgium or the winners of Group B.
Wales will play Denmark in Amsterdam and Italy will face Austria in London.
Qualified: Belgium, Denmark
Third place: Finland
Belgium romped to the top of their group and a knockout tie against one of the competition's third place teams and behind them Denmark's stunning 4-1 win over Russia was enough to elevate them from bottom spot coming into the final round of games to qualification for the last 16. In a tournament that had been so disrupted for them by the cardiac arrest suffered by playmaker Christian Eriksen, it is a remarkable achievement for Kasper Hjulmand's side.
Tournament debutants Finland are in the mix for a third place berth but with three points and a goal difference of minus two they are likely to fall short; a similar tally for Turkey at Euro 2016 was not enough to reach the last 16.
Qualified: Netherlands, Austria
Third place: Ukraine
Eliminated: North Macedonia
Second place in Group C came down to a straight fight between Ukraine and Austria in Bucharest, a first half goal by Christoph Baumgartner enough to earn Das Team a first place in the Euros knockout rounds in their history though they will be hard pressed to go further against an Italy side that have been one of the tournament's best.
The Netherlands cruised to top spot in Group C and will face a third-placed team from one of Group D, E or F in the round of 16. As for Ukraine, they will be nervously awaiting results in the final three groups over the coming days. With three points and a goal difference of minus one they are at least ahead of Finland; a draw between Croatia and Scotland in Glasgow would be enough to take them through to the last 16.
Qualified: Czech Republic, England, Croatia
England captured first place in the group on Tuesday thanks to a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic. But Tuesday's results saw three teams from the group qualify. Croatia finished in second place with a 3-1 win over Scotland, and the third-place Czechs will also advance thanks to their four points and +1 goal differential. Croatia had the same point total and goal differential as the Czech Republic but finished ahead thanks to the goals scored tiebreaker.
In the mix: Slovakia, Spain, Poland
Sweden have already qualified for the knockout stages ahead of their game against Poland, who will qualify with a win but be eliminated with any other result. Both Spain and Slovakia know that a win will guarantee their berth in the knockout rounds as well.
However, while a point would be enough for Slovakia, it would take Spain's fate out of their hands. If Luis Enrique's side were to draw and Sweden were to win then La Furia Roja would advance. However victory for Poland and a draw in the other game would leave Spain bottom of the group on three points.
No finishing position in Group E is confirmed. Its winners will face a third placed team from Group A, B, C or D. Second will face Group D's runner up whilst any qualifier from third would face Belgium or the Netherlands.
In the mix: Germany, Portugal, Hungary
With four points to their name France are through and a victory over Portugal in Budapest would be enough to guarantee them top spot in Group F. Portugal's finishing position is not within their control, if they do not get a better result than Germany manage against Hungary then they cannot top the group. Equally a point against France would be enough to guarantee progress to the knockout rounds for Cristiano Ronaldo and company.
Hungary will qualify with a win and nothing more in their away game against Germany, who need just a point to book their berth in the last 16.
Every position is up for grabs in Group F, whose winners face either Switzerland or Finland. Second place in Group F faces the second best team from Group D whilst a third place qualifier would meet Belgium or the Netherlands.
Ranking of third place teams
Round of 16 fixtures
Wales vs. Denmark (12 p.m. ET, Amsterdam)
Italy vs. Austria (3 p.m. ET, London)
Netherlands vs. Third Group D/E/F (12 p.m. ET, Budapest)
Belgium vs. Third Group Group A/E/F (3 p.m. ET, Seville)
Runner up Group D vs. Runner up Group E (12 p.m. ET, Copenhagen)
Winner Group F vs. Third Group A/C (3 p.m. ET, Bucharest)
Winner Group D vs. Runner up Group F (12 p.m. ET, London)
Winner Group E vs. Third Group B/C/D (3 p.m. ET, Glasgow)
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