As Euro 2024 in Germany draws to a close, the anticipation builds for the final showdown between Spain and England.

As the final approaches, Spain and England prepare to face off in what promises to be a thrilling contest. La Roja secured their place in the final with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over France thanks to goals from Lamine Yamal and Dani Olmo. England, on the other hand, triumphed over the Netherlands with a last-minute goal from Ollie Watkins.

Both teams have shown exceptional form throughout the tournament, and the final in Berlin will determine who lifts the Henri Delaunay trophy. For the Three Lions, it is an opportunity to redeem themselves after finishing as runners-up in 2021. For Spain, it is a chance to reaffirm their status as one of Europe’s elite soccer nations.

With the two semi-finals concluded, leaving France and the Netherlands eliminated, their journeys ended in heartbreak. Notably, these teams will not have a chance to compete for third place. This game has been a feature absent from the European Championship for more than four decades.

Comparison with other tournaments

The last European Championship to feature a third-place playoff was in 1980. That year, Czechoslovakia faced Italy in a match that ended in a dramatic 9-8 penalty shootout victory for the former after a 1-1 draw in regular time. Despite the excitement on the field, the match suffered from low in-stadium attendance and lackluster television viewership. The perceived lack of significance and public interest in the game led UEFA to scrap the third-place playoff in subsequent tournaments.

Since then, UEFA have not revisited the idea of reintroducing the match. The decision was rooted in the desire to streamline the tournament and reduce the number of matches that had little competitive value. By eliminating the third-place game, they aimed to focus attention and resources on the matches that directly influenced the championship outcome.

Unlike the European Championship, other major internationals have retained the third-place playoff. Such are the World Cup, Copa America, and the Africa Cup of Nations. These competitions continue to feature a match between the losing semi-finalists to determine which team finishes third.

For example, at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Croatia secured third place by defeating Morocco. Similarly, Copa America 2024 includes a third-place playoff, with the losing semi-finalists set to compete for the bronze medal. The presence of a third-place match in these tournaments serves several purposes.

It offers an additional opportunity for teams to compete, provides fans with another high-stakes match to enjoy, and allows players to end their tournament on a potentially positive note. Despite these benefits, UEFA have chosen a different path for the European Championship.

Awarding a Euro 2024 bronze medal without a third-place game

The absence of a third-place playoff in Euro 2024 means that the semi-final losers, France and the Netherlands, won’t have another chance to compete. UEFA does not differentiate between the two eliminated semifinalists. Hence, they are both ranked the same in the competition. Officially, they both finished third.

Both teams are left to reflect on their performances and prepare for future competitions. For the players, this could mean a quicker return to their club duties. Additionally, they are not subject to the added emotional and physical toll of another high-pressure match.

From a fan perspective, the lack of a third-place match removes an additional layer of excitement and engagement. However, it also places greater emphasis on the final. The lack of a third-place game at Euro 2024 ensures all eyes are on the ultimate decider of the tournament. This focus on the final match can heighten the sense of anticipation and drama leading up to the culmination of the competition.


Euro 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Euros!
Euro Bracket: Download a free PDF bracket for the tournament
Euro 2024 Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Euro games live in 2024
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer