Football

What do Scotland need to go through? Euro 2024 group permutations and third-place standings explained


Euro 2024 arrives at the final round of the group stage to decide who will go through to the knockouts. As well as the top two teams in each of the six groups, the four best third-placed teams will also progress to make up the last-16, with the remaining eight nations cut from the tournament.

Up first is Group A, as Scotland attempt to claim a place in the knockout stages of an international tournament for the first time in their history against Hungary. Scotland were thrashed by Germany in their opening game before bouncing back against Switzerland, with a victory over Hungary in Stuttgart needed to be sure of qualification – although an anxious wait may be required even if Steve Clarke’s side do pick up a crucial three points.

In the past two editions of the European Championship where the 24-team format has been used, four points has always been enough as a third-placed team to progress to the last-16. While three points has occasionally been sufficient, it does not guarantee a place in the next round. Two points was not enough to finish as one of the four best third-placed teams at Euro 2016 or Euro 2020, but there is a way in which it may be possible at Euro 2024.

There are certain to be plenty of twists and turns in store as the final round of fixtures are played out, with both matches in each of the groups kicking off simultaneously across the next four evenings. Here’s how the groups are looking, as well as the all-important permutations and the ranking of the third-placed teams at Euro 2024. Jump to the bottom for Uefa’s very own tiebreaker rules!

Group A

Permutations

Germany: The hosts are through to the last-16 and will win the group if they avoid defeat against Switzerland. They are guaranteed to finish in the top two, no matter their result in the final game of the group.

Switzerland: A point confirms Switzerland’s place in the top two while they will top the group if they beat Germany. Switzerland are pretty much already through on four points and the only way they finish third is if they lose to Germany and Scotland beat Hungary, while overturning Switzerland’s advantage on goal difference.

Scotland: The Tartan Army can’t afford to lose, that’s for sure, otherwise they will finish bottom of the group. Scotland have to beat Hungary to feel confident of their place in the last-16.

The only way Scotland can finish second is described above, owing to a big goal difference swing to leapfrog Switzerland. Four points should be enough to confirm Scotland’s place in the last-16, but Scotland’s goal difference means they may still need to rely on results elsewhere and pray there are at least two groups where the third-placed team finishes with three points or fewer.

There is a scenario where Scotland draw with Hungary and two points is enough to go through in third place. The key groups to watch would be Group B and Group F, where the top two teams all play the bottom two teams on the final day. Should Spain and Italy (Group B) and Portugal and Turkey (Group F) all win, then two third-placed teams would finish on one point, which would be enough for Scotland to squeeze through on two.

Hungary: They cannot finish in the top two and must beat Scotland to have any chance of going through as one of the four best third-placed teams. Three points might be enough but Hungary may need to boost their goal difference to be sure.

Scotland will go into the Hungary game targeting a win and four points
Scotland will go into the Hungary game targeting a win and four points (Getty Images)

Results so far and remaining fixtures

Munich: Germany 5-1 Scotland

Cologne: Hungary 1-3 Switzerland

Stuttgart: Germany 2-0 Hungary

Cologne: Scotland 1-1 Switzerland

June 23, Frankfurt: Switzerland v Germany (2000)

June 23, Stuttgart: Scotland v Hungary (2000)

Group B

Permutations

Spain: After beating Italy 1-0, Spain are through as group winners. They will play one of the four best third-placed teams in Cologne on Sunday 30 June at 8pm.

Italy: The holders can safely reach the last-16 if they avoid defeat against Croatia, but will be in jeopardy if they lose to the World Cup semi-finalists. If Italy lose to Croatia and Albania beat Spain, who are already through as group winners, then the holders will be out.

Albania: Realistically, Albania must beat Spain to have any chance of going through and they will be out with a draw or defeat. They could go through as runners-up if they beat Spain and Italy lose to Croatia, providing Albania’s goal difference remains superior than Croatia’s.

Croatia: Luka Modric and co. must beat Italy and would climb above the Azzurri with a victory, while they can still finish second if they beat Italy and Albania fail to win. A draw is unlikely to be good enough, even if Albania lose to Spain, and a defeat definitely won’t be.

Results so far and remaining fixtures

Berlin: Spain 3-0 Croatia

Dortmund: Italy 2-1 Albania

Hamburg: Croatia 2-2 Albania

Gelsenkirchen: Spain 1-0 Italy

June 24, Leipzig: Croatia v Italy (2000)

June 24, Dusseldorf: Albania v Spain (2000)

Group C

Permutations

England: Despite the negativity, England cannot finish lower than third and are pretty much already through to the last-16. They will top the group if they beat Slovenia. If England draw, Denmark would have the chance to leapfrog them if they beat Serbia by two goals. Slovenia and Denmark can both finish above England but Serbia cannot due to the head-to-head.

Denmark: A victory over Serbia books their place in the last-16. A draw is enough for second if England beat Slovenia, while if Denmark and Slovenia both draw, second place would come down to goals scored. Denmark will be out if they lose to Serbia.

Slovenia: Similar to the above, Slovenia will go through if they beat England, but a draw would only be enough to guarantee second if Denmark draw as well and Slovenia possess the advantage on goals scored. Slovenia would be out if they lose.

Serbia: Must beat Denmark, with any other result insufficient to go through. If Serbia win and Slovenia don’t beat England, they will go through as runner-up.

Results so far and remaining fixtures

Stuttgart: Slovenia 1-1 Denmark

Gelsenkirchen: Serbia 0-1 England

Munich: Slovenia 1-1 Serbia

Frankfurt: Denmark 1-1 England

June 25, Cologne: England v Slovenia (2000)

June 25, Munich: Denmark v Serbia (2000)

Group D

Permutations

Netherlands: The Dutch will be guaranteed a place in the top two if they avoid defeat to Austria, and will top the group if they win and better France’s result against Poland. They cannot finish any lower than third, with Poland already knocked out and confirmed as fourth before the final round of fixtures.

France: Can confirm their place in the top two if they avoid defeat to Poland, but Les Bleus will be looking to top the group and can do so if they win and the Netherlands don’t against Austria. If France and the Netherlands both win, it will go down to goal difference and then goals scored as the head-to-head is level.

Austria: Ralf Rangnick’s side can only finish in the top two if they defeat the Netherlands. A draw, and four points, should be enough to progress, while Austria may be able to lose and go through but it would almost certainly go down to goal difference with the other third-placed sides on three points. A one-goal defeat would give Austria a level goal difference; anything heavier would jeopardise their hopes.

Poland: Defeats to France and Austria put Poland at the mercy of France and the Netherlands in Leipzig, and a draw between the group leaders confirmed Poland as the first country to be knocked out of Euro 2024. They will finish fourth, regardless of their result against France on the final day.

Results so far and remaining fixtures

Hamburg: Poland 1-2 Netherlands

Dusseldorf: Austria 0-1 France

Berlin: Poland 1-3 Austria

Leipzig: Netherlands 0-0 France

June 25, Berlin: Netherlands v Austria (1700)

June 25, Dortmund: France v Poland (1700)

Group E

Permutations

Romania: With all four teams in the group level on three points going into the final round, it’s all to play for in a wide-open Group E. In one way, it’s simple for the four teams involved: win and you’re in the last-16.

But everything else is complicated. If Romania draw against Slovakia and there’s a winner in the game between Belgium and Ukraine, then Romania would finish second on goal difference. If both games finish as a draw, it would go down to goals scored again, so a 2-2 for Romania would be better than a 1-1 for Belgium, for example. If Romania lose and the other game is a draw, then Romania would finish fourth and would be out. If Romania lose but there’s a winner in the other game between Belgium and Ukraine, they would finish third if the loser is Ukraine and fourth if the loser is Belgium.

Belgium: Similar to the above, with some variations. Belgium will go through with a win against Ukraine, and top the group if the other game is a draw or if Romania defeat Slovakia. Belgium would go through if both games finish as a draw, and they would finish second with a draw and there’s a winner in the other game between Romania and Slovakia. If Belgium lose, they would finish third if Slovakia win, and fourth if Romania win.

Slovakia: Can go through with a win against Romania. Slovakia finish third with a draw, while they would also finish third if they and Belgium both lose. Slovakia would finish fourth if they lose and Belgium win.

Ukraine: Can go through with a win against Belgium. A draw would be enough to finish third on four points, but only if there is a winner in the other game between Romania and Slovakia. If all four teams finish on four points, then Ukraine would go out on goal difference. A defeat would only be good enough for third if Romania beat Slovakia.

Results so far and remaining fixtures

Munich: Romania 3-0 Ukraine

Frankfurt: Belgium 0-1 Slovakia

Dusseldorf: Slovakia 1-2 Ukraine

Cologne: Belgium 2-0 Romania

June 26, Frankfurt: Slovakia v Romania (1700)

June 26, Stuttgart: Ukraine v Belgium (1700)

Group F

Permutations

Portugal: Are through as group winners with a game to spare. Portugal will play one of the four best third-placed teams in Frankfurt on Monday 1 July in the last-16.

Turkey: A heavy defeat to Portugal was a blow to Turkey’s goal difference but they can advance with a win over Czech Republic. A draw should be fine, too, and will be good enough for second place if Georgia fail to beat Portugal. Turkey would be knocked out if they lose to Czech Republic and Georgia beat Portugal – but will finish third if they lose and Georgia fail to win. Goal difference would decide if it’s enough to advance.

Czechia: Have to beat Turkey to stand a chance of progress. If Czech Republic win and better Georgia’s result, they will finish second. If they draw or lose and Georgia win, they will be out. If they draw or lose and Georgia match their result, goal difference will decide who finishes third, but their points total is unlikely to be enough.

Georgia: They must beat Portugal, with two points unlikely to be enough. If Georgia and Czech Republic both win, it would go down to goal difference, with the Czechs currently one ahead. If Turkey win or draw, a Georgia win would only be enough for third. If Georgia lose but Czech Republic lose by more they may finish third, but it is unlikely to be enough to go through.

Results so far and remaining fixtures

Dortmund: Turkey 3-1 Georgia

Leipzig: Portugal 2-1 Czechia

Hamburg: Georgia 1-1 Czechia

Dortmund: Turkey 0-3 Portugal

June 26, Hamburg: Czechia v Turkey (2000)

June 26, Gelsenkirchen: Georgia v Portugal (2000)

Ranking of third-placed teams

Tiebreaker rules

If two or more teams in the same group are equal on points on completion of the final tournament group stage, the following criteria are applied, in the order given, to determine their rankings:

  1. higher number of points obtained in the matches played among the teams in question;
  2. superior goal difference resulting from the matches played among the teams in question;
  3. higher number of goals scored in the matches played among the teams in question;
  4. if, after having applied criteria a) to c), teams still have an equal ranking, criteria a) to c) are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the remaining teams to determine their final rankings. If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria e) to h) apply in the order given to the two or more teams still equal:
  5. superior goal difference in all group matches;
  6. higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
  7. lower disciplinary points total based only on yellow and red cards received by players and team officials in all group matches (red card = 3 points, yellow card = 1 point, expulsion for two yellow cards in one match = 3 points);
  8. position in the overall European Qualifiers rankings, or if Germany, the host association team, is involved in the comparison, drawing of lots.

To determine the four best third-placed teams, the following criteria are applied, in the order given:

  1. higher number of points;
  2. superior goal difference;
  3. higher number of goals scored;
  4. higher number of wins;
  5. lower disciplinary points total based only on yellow and red cards received by players and team officials in all group matches (red card = 3 points, yellow card = 1 point, expulsion for two yellow cards in one match = 3 points);
  6. position in the overall European Qualifiers rankings, or if Germany, the host association team, is involved in the comparison, drawing of lots.



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