The Euro 2024 playoffs wrapped up the final three spots available at this summer’s tournament in Germany. After Georgia secured a spot in a major international tournament for the first time, eyes turned to the other two playoffs. Iceland faced Ukraine in a neutral-site game in Wrocław, Poland. In the other game, Wales hosted Poland in a game featuring two teams that played in the most recent World Cup in Qatar.

In the Poland game in Cardiff, Robert Lewandowski’s side thrashed Estonia, 5-1, to set up this one-game playoff. Likewise, Wales dumped Euro 2020 debutante Finland with a 4-1 win in Cardiff. After failing to qualify for any major international tournament since 1958, Wales was looking for its third trip to the European Championship in a row. However, Poland was in the way as it hunted its fifth title.

In the end, Wales against Poland was scoreless for 120 minutes, forcing penalty kicks to determine the winner. With Poland scoring all five penalty kicks, it was up to Daniel James for Wales to score Wales’ fifth. Unfortunately for Wales, Poland Wojciech Szczęsny saved the shot to send Wales crashing out.

The fixture between Iceland and Ukraine was not as clear. Due to ongoing conflicts in both Ukraine and Israel, this four-team playoff involving Israel, Iceland, Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina involved two neutral-site games. Ukraine won on the road against Bosnia and Herzegovina after Artem Dovbyk scored in the 88th minute. Iceland defeated Israel in Budapest behind Albert Guðmundsson hat trick. With Ukraine hosting the playoff final, UEFA designated that fixture as another game with a neutral venue.

In tonight’s game, it was Ukraine who advanced to Euro 2024. Iceland went ahead in the match, but Ukraine bounced back and found a winner through Mykhailo Mudryk who scored in the 84th minute to get the win.

By the end of Tuesday’s fixtures, Ukraine and Polandjoined the 22 teams already with a spot in the European Championships.

Euro 2024 groups are locked in for this summer

As a result of the Euro 2024 playoffs finishing, the six groups for the tournament are set up. Going into the March international break, 12 teams knew the three opponents they would play. Groups A, B and C did not have any involvement in the playoff phase. Now, the latter three groups also have their full quartet of sides.

Georgia joined a group including Portugal, Turkey and the Czech Republic, three common nations at the European Championship. For Ukraine, Belgium, Slovakia and Romania are the three opponents. Finally, Poland will face a vaunted group of the Netherlands, France and Austria. The latter of the two is certainly one of the tougher groups in Euro 2024. The main competitor for the ‘toughest group’ at the tournament in Germany will be Group B. In this group, the four teams are Spain, Croatia, Italy and Albania.

Over half of the teams reach the knockout stage

Immediately looking at some of these groups, one or two teams stand out among the rest. They will be the favorites to advance, as the top two teams in each group after the three-game round-robin punch a ticket to the round of 16. However, four of the six third-place teams will also join the teams in the knockout stages at Euro 2024.

In the past two tournaments since UEFA adopted this format, teams with as few as three points have advanced to the knockout stages. Therefore, one win in those three games could be enough. In Euro 2016, for example, two of the third-place finishers on three points advanced. The two third-place finishers that failed to advance were also on three points. That shows the significance of goal differential in the group stage of the European Championship.