May 20, 2021
May 20, 2021

Can Euros qualifying matches help inform your predictions?

How important are Euros qualifying matches?

How well do different types of qualifiers perform at the Euros?

How well do Euros hosts perform at the tournament?

Euros qualifiers performance since Euro 2000

Can Euros qualifying matches help inform your predictions?

For the last couple of decades, there have been a number of different methods by which teams have been able to qualify for the Euros. With this in mind, can a team’s qualification campaign help inform how they might perform at the final tournament? Read on to find out.

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How important are Euros qualifying matches?

International football is far from straightforward for bettors to forecast. Clubs in the top European leagues play 34-38 matches a season, but an international side can take several years to complete that many fixtures.

For instance, Gareth Southgate’s 38th match as England manager was three years and three days after his first. To add to the difficulty from a predictive perspective, roughly a quarter of those fixtures were friendlies and it is debatable as to whether qualifying matches against the likes of San Marino and Malta can be truly labelled as competitive.

Nonetheless, with an eye on the forthcoming Euro 2020, it is important to try to establish if a team’s form in qualifying has any impact on how they perform at the tournament itself, considering qualification matches entail a large proportion of many international teams’ competitive soccer.

This task is not aided by the ever-changing nature of the qualifying process. Euro 2020 will be the seventh edition of the tournament since it was expanded to (at least) 16 teams in 1996, and there have been six different qualification process formats used during that time.

The 24 teams competing at Euro 2020 are comprised of the winners and runners-up from each of the 10 qualification groups and the four countries that won their subsequent playoff tie. Using historical data, we can study how teams from each of those brackets has performed over the previous five Euros to establish if there are any themes which can guide our betting.

Euros qualifiers performance since Euro 2000

Qualification method



Quarter-finals appearance rate


Semi-finals appearance rate


Final appearance rate

Qualification group winners








Qualification group runners-up








Playoff winners
















How well do playoff qualifiers perform at the Euros?

Four teams competing at Euro 2020 qualified via the playoffs: Hungary, North Macedonia, Scotland and Slovakia. As you might expect by the fact they required a lengthier route to qualify, playoff winners cannot boast a great track record of success.

As with any rule, there are exceptions. The Netherlands reached the semi-finals at Euro 2004 after qualifying via the playoffs, and Portugal matched the feat at Euro 2012. However, beyond these two examples, the other 15 playoff winners from the last five Euros have only two quarter-final appearances to show for their efforts.

This consistent lack of success is reflected in Pinnacle’s outright odds for Euro 2020, as none of the four playoff winners have been given as much as a 1% chance of winning the tournament, and all are predicted to be eliminated at the group stage.

Hungary and Ireland both qualified for Euro 2016 via the playoffs and reached the Round of 16, but history suggests there is little reason to feel confident that any of this year’s equivalent teams can do any better than that.

How well do qualifying group runners-up perform at the Euros?

A total of 10 teams competing at Euro 2020 qualified by finishing as the runners-up in their qualifying group: Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, and Wales.

Five of the eight quarter-finalists at Euro 2008 finished as runners-up in their qualifying group before the tournament.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, teams who qualified directly but failed to win their group have a better record than nations who relied upon the playoffs. They even have a finalist among their number - Germany at Euro 2008.

Due to the multiple qualification formats deployed over the years, the majority of teams who fall into this bracket featured at Euro 2008 and 2016, although the teams in the former edition can be objectively considered stronger.

Indeed, five of the eight quarter-finalists and three of the four semi-finalists in Austria and Switzerland 13 years ago finished as runners-up in their qualification group. As well as Germany, this group included France, the Netherlands, and Portugal, all of whom would be broadly expected to win their qualification group ahead of any given tournament.

At Euro 2016, Wales achieved a semi-final appearance, while Iceland and Poland made it to the last eight. Overall, nine of 19 teams (47.4%) who qualified for the Euros as group runners-up progressed to at least the quarter-finals.

Suitably, the Netherlands and Portugal are once again in this bracket for Euro 2020, with Pinnacle’s outright odds both giving them an approximate 8% chance of lifting the trophy on July 11.

How well do qualifying group winners perform at the Euros?

Another 10 teams competing at Euro 2020 qualified by winning their qualifying group: Belgium, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

Qualifying group winners have been responsible for exactly half of the teams who have competed at the last five Euros, as well as all five winners, a further two finalists, and three teams who reached the semi-finals. In total, that entails 10 of the 20 countries who reached at least the semi-finals between Euro 2000 and 2016.

Despite this, a higher proportion of qualifying group runners-up (26.3% to 22.7%) have progressed to the semi-finals. Nonetheless, the tournament’s history implies it would be a shock if the Euro 2020 champion did not come from the pool of 10 qualifying group winners, and four of them are currently the leading quartet in Pinnacle’s outright market.

How well do Euros hosts perform at the tournament?

During the span of time in this study, Euros host nations have not had to qualify for the tournament. There is no host nation for Euro 2020, although as both semi-finals and final are being played at Wembley Stadium in London, England can perhaps be regarded as the closest team to being one. Notably, as of May 10 they were the outright favourites for the tournament with Pinnacle.

Qualifying group winners have recently collected the most silverware at the Euros.

The eight hosting teams from the last five Euros provided a pair of runners-up and a further semi-finalist, but have otherwise failed to progress beyond the group stage. However, their general ability and prowess at the time appears to have been a far more relevant factor on this front than the fact that their matches were on home soil.

The three host nations who progressed the furthest were all included in the top 14 European teams according to the FIFA World Rankings at the start of the tournament, whereas the five eliminated in the group stage were 20th or worse.

As England were fourth in the April update to the FIFA World Rankings, if they can earn any kind of home advantage from games played at Wembley in front of a limited number of fans, then they should feel confident of at least reaching the semi-finals.

While proportionally more qualifying group runners-up have reached the semi-finals, unsurprisingly it is the qualifying group winners who have collected the most silverware. These findings would admittedly be the natural assumption, but when placing your bets it never hurts to have some data to hand to underline your suspicions.

Looking forward to Euro 2020? Win Your Way by checking out the latest Euro 2020 odds on every match and group, outright markets, and more with Pinnacle.

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