March 2019 sees the start of the qualifying fixtures for the UEFA EURO 2020, with the qualifying fixtures running up until November 2019
Next year’s tournament will see some changes to the competition including the tournament being hosted in 12 countries with the final taking place at Wembley Stadium. None of the 12 host teams will gain automatic qualification – a change from previous tournaments.
Twenty-four teams will compete in the tournament and 20 finalists will earn their places via conventional groups with four coming through a changed play-off system. The 55 teams were split into ten groups of five or six. Four of the five groups of five contain one team that has qualified for the UEFA Nations League finals (to be played June 2019). The top two from each group will qualify for the final tournament determining the first 20 places.
The last four EURO places will be won through the European Qualifiers play-offs, which will be contested by the 16 UEFA Nations League group winners. If a UEFA Nations League group winner has already qualified via European Qualifiers, then their spot will go to the next best-ranked team in their league. The last UEFA European Championship was in 2016 and was won by first-time winners Portugal, beating hosts France by 1-0 over extra time in the Stade de France. This was the first time the European Championship final tournament was contested by 24 teams, having been expanded from the 16-team format since 1996.
Wales had a tournament to remember that year, beating Belgium 3-1 to reach the semi-final. Then managed by Chris Coleman, Wales also beat Russia 3-0 and saw a 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland. It was the first time Wales had reached the finals of a major tournament since 1958, giving the Welsh nation a night to remember against Belgium. England suffered more of a humiliating tournament, despite beating in-form Wales. Their first game of the tournament was a 1-1 draw with Russia, before narrowly beating Wales and being held to a goalless draw against Slovakia. They were ultimately knocked out of the Quarter-finals by unexpectedly losing 2-1 to Iceland. After a successful World Cup campaign last year, Gareth Southgate’s men are expected to go to next year’s competition with high hopes.
European Qualifiers & UEFA EURO 2020 timetable
21–26 March, 7–8 & 10–11 June, 5–10 September, 10–15 October & 14–19 November 2019: European Qualifiers group stage (ten match-days)
22 November 2019: European Qualifiers play-off draw
1 December 2019: UEFA EURO 2020 final tournament draw
26–31 March 2020: European Qualifiers play-offs
1 April 2020: Additional final tournament draw, if required
12 June–12 July 2020 (provisional): UEFA EURO 2020 final tournament
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