The pan-European format has been derided, the tournament postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, host cities have been dropped and matches moved, but Euro 2020 finally gets underway when Italy face Turkey in Rome on Friday, June 11.

Following the unprecedented decision to postpone the competition in March last year at the start of the pandemic, the health crisis is not over and Covid-19 will continue to cast a shadow over this European Championship.

However, five years after Portugal overcame an injury to Cristiano Ronaldo to defeat France and win Euro 2016 in Paris, and three years after the French won the World Cup in Russia, anticipation in Europe is now building towards another major tournament summer.

There is no shortage of candidates among the 24 nations, not least France as they look to repeat their feat of two decades ago, when they followed winning the 1998 World Cup with victory at Euro 2000.

That this Euro is taking place in 11 cities across 11 different countries is down to a Frenchman – it was the “zany” idea of Michel Platini during his time as president of Uefa.

Venues and crowd limits

There were initially 13 host cities before Brussels was sidelined and before the pandemic intervened. In April Dublin and Bilbao were dropped too. Seville replaced Bilbao while Dublin’s games went to London and Saint-Petersburg.

The remaining venues – Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, Saint-Petersburg and Seville – have all confirmed fans will be allowed to fill between 25 and 100 percent of capacity, with the exception of Munich, which said it aims to host at least 14,500 fans at the Allianz Arena.

Venues and crowd limits

City Venue Standard capacity Allowed capacity
Amsterdam Johan Cruyff Arena 54,990 At least 33.3% (approximately 16,000), subject to possible increase
Baku Olympic Stadium 68,700 50% (approximately 34,350), with no foreign spectators permitted other than citizens of participating teams
Bucharest Arena Națională 55,600 At least 25% (approximately 13,000), subject to possible increase
Budapest Puskás Aréna 67,215 Full capacity, subject to spectators fulfilling strict stadium entry requirements
Copenhagen Parken Stadium 38,065 40% (approximately 15,900)
Glasgow Hampden Park 51,866 25% (approximately 12,000)
London Wembley Stadium 90,000 At least 25% (approximately 22,500) for group stage and round of 16, with possible increase for semi-finals and final
Munich Allianz Arena 70,000 20% (14,000)
Rome Stadio Olimpico 70,634 At least 25% (approximately 17,659), subject to possible increase
Saint Petersburg Krestovsky Stadium 68,134 At least 50% (approximately 34,067), subject to possible increase
Seville La Cartuja 60,000 30% (approximately 18,000)

The groups

Group A: Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland

Read preview: Resurgent Italy are the team to watch out for

Group B: Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia

Read preview: For favourites Belgium, tricky opponents complicate route to knockouts

Group C: Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, North Macedonia

Read preview: After missing out on Euro 2016 and 2018 World Cup, the Dutch are back

Group D: England, Croatia, Scotland, Czech Republic

Read preview: England, Croatia renew rivalry as Scotland, Czech Republic eye upsets

Group E: Spain, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia

Read preview: Spain’s new-look side start as favourites, Poland bank on Lewandowski

Group F: Hungary, Portugal, France, Germany

Read preview: Portugal, France and Germany locked in a mouthwatering three-way tussle

The format

The European Championships have adopted a new format since the 2016 edition that features 24 teams. The addition of new sides to the competition has certainly added more colour to it but has also made the qualification process from the group stage a little bit more complex.

With 24 teams split across six groups, the top two teams from each group will advance to the Round of 16. To make up the remaining four slots, the four best third-placed teams will joing them in the next stage.

The rules for classification for third-placed teams are as follows:

1) Points

2) Goal difference

3) Goals scored

4) Wins

5) Lower disciplinary points total

6) European Qualifiers overall ranking

For general scenarios when two or more teams are locked on the same number of points, the following criteria will be used to split them:

  1. Higher number of points obtained in the matches played between the teams in question;
  2. Superior goal difference resulting from the matches played between the teams in question;
  3. Higher number of goals scored in the matches played between the teams in question;
  4. If, after having applied criteria 1 to 3, teams still have an equal ranking, criteria 1 to 3 are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the teams who are still level to determine their final rankings. If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria 5 to 10 apply;
  5. Superior goal difference in all group matches;
  6. Higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
  7. Higher number of wins in all group matches;
  8. If on the last round of the group stage, two teams are facing each other and each has the same number of points, as well as the same number of goals scored and conceded, and the score finishes level in their match, their ranking is determined by a penalty shoot-out. (This criterion is not used if more than two teams have the same number of points.);
  9. Lower disciplinary points total 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);
  10. Higher position in the European Qualifiers overall ranking.

Note: If there is a three-way tie on points, the application of the first three 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 the two teams that are still tied.

The draw


Match 1: 2A vs 2B

Match 2: 1A vs 2C

Match 3: 1C vs 3D/E/F

Match 4: 1B vs 3A/D/E/F

Match 5: 2D vs 2E

Match 6: 1F vs 3A/B/C

Match 7: 1D vs 2F

Match 8: 1E vs 3A/B/C/D

The specific match-ups involving the third-placed teams depend on which four third-placed teams will qualify for the round of 16

Combination of third-placed teams qualifying

1Bvs 1Cvs 1Evs 1Fvs
A B C D 3A 3D 3B 3C
A B C E 3A 3E 3B 3C
A B C F 3A 3F 3B 3C
A B D E 3D 3E 3A 3B
A B D F 3D 3F 3A 3B
A B E F 3E 3F 3B 3A
A C D E 3E 3D 3C 3A
A C D F 3F 3D 3C 3A
A C E F 3E 3F 3C 3A
A D E F 3E 3F 3D 3A
B C D E 3E 3D 3B 3C
B C D F 3F 3D 3C 3B
B C E F 3F 3E 3C 3B
B D E F 3F 3E 3D 3B
C D E F 3F 3E 3D 3C


QF 1: Winner of Match 5 vs Winner of Match 6

QF 2: Winner of Match 4 vs Winner of Match 2

QF 3: Winner of Match 3 vs Winner of Match 1

QF 4: Winner of Match 8 vs Winner of Match 7


SF 1: Winner of QF 2 vs Winner of QF 1

SF 2: Winner of QF 4 vs Winner of QF 3

The contenders

France have Karim Benzema back after a long international exile and they look a fearsome proposition as they target a tournament double.

“There are obviously big expectations after the success we have had and that is the aim of this squad, of this generation,” coach Didier Deschamps told AFP recently.

Belgium are sweating over the fitness of key player Kevin De Bruyne after he suffered facial injuries in the recent Champions League final but have a group of players that have been threatening to transform into a winning unit for long.

Roberto Martinez’s team won all ten matches during qualification and looked in splendid touch.

An England side who have the carrot of knowing both semi-finals and the final will be played at home are also a genuine threat.

In England, there are hopes Gareth Southgate’s young side could benefit with the home advantage.

England have never before reached a European Championship final, but captain Harry Kane believes the team will start their bid in a “better place” than they were before reaching the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.

There are also the holders. “For a long time now we have gone into tournaments not just to compete but to win,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos told A Bola.

They won’t be going into many more tournaments with Ronaldo, who is 36 now.

Germany are always there or thereabouts and with a bunch of promising youngsters in their squad, Die Mannschaft could mount a serious challenge. Whether the team remains behind Joachim Low remains to be seen

Dark horses

Italy may not be categorised as favourites after failing to reach the 2018 World Cup, but Roberto Mancini’s men had a solid qualifying campaign winning all ten matches and conceding just four goals. With a reputation for turning up in the big-ticket events, the Italians will be a dangerous outfit.

Spain are no longer the force they were a decade ago but are certainly on the way up under Luis Enrique. With an unbeaten qualifying campaign under their belt, they are looking to peak at the Euro finals.

Netherlands are back in the big league and their new generation of players has excited fans across the globe. Whether they can do enough to go all the way is questionable but you can never doubt the quality of Dutch teams. This one is no different.

Ukraine may not be among the teams to watch out for but Andriy Shevchenko’s men have been one of the better teams in qualifying. Going unbeaten and conceding just four goals, Ukraine finished above defending champions Portugal in their group. Watch out for this revitalised group of players.

Turkey are a team that many fans are expecting big things from in this year’s competition thanks to the exciting talent at their disposal. Having finished just two points behind France in qualifying, Turkey have shown they can make a mark at Euro 2020.

The newcomers

Finland and Macedonia are making their bow at the European Championships this time out. While Finland sealed a direct route to Euro 2020 by finishing runners-up in Group G behind Italy, North Macedonia had to win the playoff after finishing third in their group.

Both teams have earned themselves as favourable draws as possible giving them a realistic chance of making it to the Round of 16 but their presence in the tournament will be more about their performances than results.

Players to watch out for

There will be plenty of stars on show at the Euros but the focus will mainly be on these attacking talents

  1. Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
  2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
  3. Karim Benzema (France)
  4. Kylian Mbappe (France)
  5. Gerard Morena (Spain)
  6. Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
  7. Harry Kane (England)

Apart from the star attraction, there will be plenty of youngsters to keep an eye on. From Germany’s Jamal Musiala to England’s Phil Foden, there is no shortage of budding talent that could make a breakthrough at Euro 2020.

Where to watch

Euro 2020 will be held from 11 June to 11 July 2021 and can be watched in India across the Sony Sports Network and on Sony LIV.

(With AFP inputs)