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Euro 2020 Qualifiers Recap: How We Got Here

With vaccination programmes well underway across Europe, the much-delayed Euro 2020 Championship is set to be held this summer, in what promises to be an exciting clash between titans of the game. The tournament was originally scheduled to be held from 12 June to 12 July 2020, but as was the case with other sports events, got postponed due to the raging pandemic. The tournament is now scheduled to be held from 11 June to 11 July this year, in 12 cities across Europe.  

 

QUALIFYING PROCESS

The qualifying draw for the tournament was held on 2 December 2018. With the entrance of Kosovo, 55 men’s national teams had to compete for the final 24 spots in the main event. For the first time since 1976, no team was an automatic entrant – host country teams had to qualify through the standard process like other teams. With the creation of UEFA Nations League in 2018, the qualifiers were linked to the League, giving teams a second route to qualify for the tournament. The qualifying process guaranteed that at least one team from each division of the previous Nations League season would qualify for the final tournament – either through the qualifiers or through the play-offs.

The teams were divided into 10 groups after the Nations League tournament ended, with team seedings based on performances in the League. There were five groups of five teams and five groups of six teams. The top two teams in each group qualified to the tournament, meaning that there were 20 spots up for grabs.

The remaining four slots in the tournament were filled through the play-offs between 16 teams, selected through the Nations League.

 

QUALIFIED TEAMS

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and Wales have qualified for the tournament.

Here’s a breakdown of the most exciting entrants and their pathway to the tournament:

Portugal: Portugal are the defending champions, and will be looking to retain the title they won in the 2016 competition. Their path to the tournament wasn’t smooth however, they managed to qualify in the last match with a less than impressive victory against Luxembourg. Portugal will gain inspiration from their Nations League victory and will look to repeat the performance. Cristiano Ronaldo will be the first player in history to play in five European Championship finals. The GOAT’s presence allows them to dream big once more.

England: After a fascinating campaign to reach the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, expectations are at an all-time high from Gareth Southgate’s men. England have dominated their weak qualification group, securing their qualification through an emphatic 7-0 win over Montenegro in the penultimate qualifying match. The fact that all their group stage matches will be hosted at Wembley will only boost their confidence. Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford form one of the best forward lines in the world, and as ever, all eyes will be on England to prove their worth.

France: The 2018 world champions and 2016 Euro finalists have reached their eighth Euro finals in a row rather comfortably and qualified untroubled by a high share of injuries. Didier Deschamps had to use 29 players to get his team through to the tournament, among them significant newcomers. However, with the championship-winning team more or less intact for the tournament, anything less than a top-four finish would be considered a failure for the French men.

Belgium: Belgium’s Golden Generation had a flawless campaign in the qualifiers, winning 30 out of 30 points available, scoring 40 goals and conceding just three. With Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku in the prime of their career, this might be the best chance for Belgium to win an international trophy before it’s too late.

Italy: Italy have made a remarkable comeback after their disastrous exit from the World Cup in 2018, winning all their matches in Group J, scoring 3.7 goals per game and conceding only four. Italy now play with a 4-3-3 formation based on pressing, possession and speed. The team may lack structure a new generation of talents promise impressive performances.

Turkey: Şenol Güneş inherited a side in complete disarray, But the Turks surprised just about everybody and managed to take four points from the world champions France, booking a place in Euro 2020 with a game to spare.

Wales: Wales have waited more than five decades to enter any major international tournament, but since entering Euros in 2016, they have managed to stick around. After beating Hungary in a winner-takes-all match in Cardiff, they finished last year unbeaten in six games, and they will fancy their chances in the tournament.

 

Where to Watch?

Sony is the official broadcaster of the UEFA Euro 2020 in India. The matches will be telecast live on Sony TEN 2, Sony TEN 2 HD, Sony SIX and Sony SIX HD TV channels. All games will be streamed live on SonyLiv.

 

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