All you need to know: European Qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2020
Greece’s quest to qualify for their first major tournament since 2014 begins on Saturday and AGONAsport’s Sarantos Kaperonis breaks down everything you need to know about the qualifying process.
Greece kick off their UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying campaign on Saturday away to minnows Liechtenstein before traveling to Zenica to matchup against common foes Bosnia. In addition to Liechtenstein and Bosnia, the Ethniki have been drawn into Group J along with Italy, Finland, and Armenia.
In the fall of 2018, Greece competed in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in what turned out to be a disappointing campaign in League C. Greece claimed third place behind group winners Finland, runner-ups Hungary, and ahead of last placed Estonia. The Ethniki recorded three wins (@ EST, v HUN, v FIN) and three loses (@ HUN, @ FIN, v EST) from their six matches and finished 33rd in the UEFA Nations League overall rankings.
European Qualifiers Format
The UEFA EURO qualifying process, which is a separate competition from the Nations League, is now more streamlined. The format is simple: There are 10 qualifying groups (Greece are in Group J) made up of five or six teams and the top TWO teams from each group will automatically qualify for EURO 2020 (20 teams). Each team within a group will play the other in home and away fixtures.
Twenty four teams will qualify for the EURO 2020 finals and the remaining four places will be awarded to the European play-off winners.
EURO 2020 will be played across 12 different countries, thus no host nation will gain automatic qualification.
UEFA Nations League and European playoffs
Sixteen teams will compete in the European playoffs which include the four group winners from each of the four Leagues in the UEFA Nations League. The playoff winners from League A, League B, League C, and League D paths will earn the final four spots at EURO 2020.
If a team qualifies for EURO 2020 via the qualifying process and has secured a place in the European playoffs, the next best ranked team within that League will compete in the playoffs. For example, Finland were the League C, Group 2 winners and thus have secured a place in the playoffs. If Finland were to qualify for EURO 2020 via the qualifying process (finish in top two of Group J), their place in the playoffs will be taken by the next best ranked team from League C.
If a league does not have four teams to compete, the remaining slots are allocated to teams from another league, according to the overall UEFA Nations League rankings (i.e. the next best ranked team that has not qualified for the European Finals will be given a place in the playoffs).
Due to Greece’s third place finish in Group 2 of League C and their overall ranking in the Nations League (33rd), the Ethniki must qualify for EURO 2020 via the European qualifiers. The playoffs are out of reach for the Greek team, who ranked as the ninth best team within League C and 33rd overall from the 55 nations.
Greece in Group J
Greece, as a pot four seed, were drawn into Group J with Italy (pot 1), Bosnia (pot 2), Finland (pot 3), Armenia (pot 5), and Liechtenstein (pot 6). Greece will play each Group J opponent in home and away fixtures. Below is Greece’s full schedule.
March 23, Liechtenstein - Greece
March 26, Bosnia - Greece
June 8, Greece - Italy
June 11, Greece - Armenia
September 5, Finland - Greece
September 8, Greece - Liechtenstein
October 12, Italy - Greece
October 15, Greece - Bosnia
November 15, Armenia - Greece
November 18, Greece - Finland
Greece’s task is straightforward. Finish in the top two of Group J come matchday ten in November, or miss out on a third consecutive major tournament.
Group Tiebreaker Criteria
Since this is a UEFA competition, UEFA’s tiebreaker criteria applies in the group stages. If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of the group matches, the following tie-breaking criteria are applied:
Higher number of points obtained in the matches played among the teams in question (i.e. Head to head record);
Superior goal difference in matches played among the teams in question (i.e. Head to head goal differential);
Higher number of goals scored in the matches played among the teams in question (i.e. Head to head goals forced);
Higher number of goals scored away from home in the matches played among the teams in question (i.e. Head to head away goals);
If, after having applied criteria 1 to 4, teams still have an equal ranking, criteria 1 to 4 are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the teams in question to determine their final rankings.* If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria 6 to 10 apply;
Superior goal difference in all group matches (i.e. overall goal differential);
Higher number of goals scored in all group matches (i.e. overall goals scored);
Higher number of away goals scored in all group matches (i.e. overall away goals);
Higher number of wins in all group matches;
Higher number of away wins in all group matches;
Fair play conduct in all group matches (1 point for a single yellow card, 3 points for a red card as a consequence of two yellow cards, 3 points for a direct red card, 4 points for a yellow card followed by a direct red card);
Position in the UEFA Nations League overall ranking.
* When there are two or more teams tied in points, criteria 1 to 4 are applied. After these criteria are applied, they may define the position of some of the teams involved, but not all of them. For example, if there is a three-way tie on points, the application of the first four criteria may only break the tie for one of the teams, leaving the other two teams still tied. In this case, the tiebreaking procedure is resumed, from the beginning, for those teams that are still tied.