UEFA Euro 2024, commonly referred to as the UEFA Euro or simply Euro 2024, is the seventeenth iteration of the UEFA European Championship, an international football tournament contested by national groups from respective member associations of UEFA. The final game will occur in Germany in June and July of 2024.
After a two-year qualifying process, which started in March 2022, twenty-four teams will be competing in this final tournament. Direct qualifying from the European Qualifiers group stage will see twenty teams. The remaining four shall come through UEFA Euro 2024 Play-Offs, which are meant to enable more teams to have an opportunity to qualify for this prestigious tournament.
These playoff games are intended to decide who among these twelve nations will make up the final four positions in the team lineup of twenty-four for Euro 2024. These playoffs can, therefore, be seen as a chance for those teams who failed/have not managed to qualify directly using the usual qualification channels/ways. For some countries whose national teams have not succeeded, making it to the Euros through these playoffs is an outstanding achievement.
The play-offs will involve twelve teams: ten nation runners-up from European Qualifiers plus two best winners of groups during UEFA Nations League 2020–22 that were not directly qualified or had not reached the play-offs after being eliminated from the qualification group stage. It also offers an opportunity for most, if not all, member countries in UEFA to participate in the competitive EURO 2024.
The play-offs consist of three single-match knockout ties taking place in March next year. Only three winners will fill the coveted last three spots at Euro 2024 out of these games, while playoff semi-finals involve four seeded against four unseeded ones, with the final four teams battling it out in “Path C”. Therefore, if Germany finishes second in its qualifying group, the third-best team will enter the play-offs since Germany qualifies directly.
In the past, some countries that made it through the play-offs have ended up performing amazingly well at the Euro competition. The play-off system allows more underdogs from obscurity to make it through, making it more likely that some story will progress from nowhere when you approach the last grand championship before the subsequent World Cup.
UEFA had a Euro play-off system not to disadvantage smaller national teams. Given that there are only 24 places available at this tournament compared to 55 UEFA member countries, play-offs provide an invaluable reprieve for struggling countries during qualification. It balances a broader representation of European football’s diversity in the Euro that is prestigious while maintaining high standards of direct qualification to the finals.