Euro 2024 qualifying concluded on Tuesday. Twenty-one teams locked in their spot at the tournament in Germany in the summer of 2024. However, it was not smooth sailing for some of the European elites. Croatia needed a win on the final day to ensure its place in the tournament. Italy had to sweat out a result against Ukraine in its last match of qualifying to advance based on head-to-head record. The Netherlands survived against Greece in the penultimate international break after losing to France twice. Spain broke through a resilient Scotland side to finish at the top of its group.
Elsewhere, major teams showed their dominance. France, England, Belgium and Portugal were undefeated in Euro 2024 qualifying. Each finished at the top of their group with relative ease. They will be among the favorites to win Euro 2024 during next summer’s tournament.
In total, there will be 24 teams at Euro 2024. Germany already had a spot as host. Then, joining those 21 teams, three teams will advance from a playoff stage. Twelve teams are battling for those three spots. That includes nations like Wales, Poland, Iceland Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The draw to see the four-team brackets is on Thursday, Nov. 23.
Examining the future Euro 2024 pots
It will be challenging to predict what teams will emerge from those playoff brackets. There are favorites, yes. But, playoff stages can be unpredictable. Look at Italy during a World Cup 2022 playoff when it lost to North Macedonia.
What is certain is where these teams will go in the Euro 2024 draw. Each will enter in Pot 4 of the draw, which could set up major challenges for those teams emerging from the playoff stage. Each group at Euro 2024 will have one team from each Pot. For instance, the aforementioned France, England, Belgium and Portugal occupy Pot 1. That holds the best teams throughout Euro 2024 qualifying. Pots 2, 3 and 4 still hold major teams.
Here is how the Pots shake out for the Euro 2024 draw proper. That event is on Dec. 2.
|Pot 1||Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4|
|Spain||Denmark||Slovenia||Playoff winner A|
|Belgium||Albania||Slovakia||Playoff winner B|
|England||Austria||Czech Republic||Playoff winner C|
As seen in the table, the playoff winners are unknown. With the tournament’s draw happening on Dec. 2, the groups that have playoff winners will not know their opponents. The playoff games are in late March, with each team entering a single-elimination contest in a playoff semifinal. In other words, playoff teams will have to win two games to advance to Germany in 2024.
Potential for elite groups
There are no restrictions in the Euro 2024 draw. In the World Cup, those exist. For example, teams from South America cannot play teams from South America in the group stage. With just 24 teams in Euro 2024, there are no restrictions. Therefore, teams that competed in the same qualifying group can play against one another in the tournament proper. That happened in Euro 2020 as the Czech Republic faced England in qualifying and the Euro 2020 group stage.
What this means is that some star-studded groups can form. Pot 3 has the Netherlands and Croatia while Pot 4 has Italy and Switzerland. Combine those teams with the threats of Pot 1, and that is a proverbial group of death. For instance, England could go up against Croatia, the team that knocked it out in the World Cup semifinals in 2018, and Italy, the team that defeated England in the Euro 2020 Final. That would be a daunting situation for any team in the group stage.
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