The UEFA 2020 European Football Championship is into the middle third of group stage play and we already have teams clinching berths in the knockout stage. The group stage consists of six groups of four teams, with each team playing one match against each of the other three teams. The top two teams in each group will advance to the Round of 16 and then the top four third place teams will also advance.
The majority of knockout stage berths will be clinched during the third round of group stage matches, but we’re already seeing some clinching scenarios during the second round of matches. We’ll be tracking each team that clinches a berth in the knockout stage to fill out the Euro 2020 bracket.
Italy (Group A) — Clinched on June 16
The Italians were the first to book their ticket to the knockout rounds as they cruised through their group with a pair of 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland in their first two match days. Six points will almost always guarantee a top-two finish in the group stages, but it helps that both Switzerland and Turkey remained winless through their first two matches, with Turkey losing both of them while the Swiss logged a draw and a loss. With Switzerland at one point and Turkey at zero after two games, it became mathematically impossible for either team to catch up to Italy with only one game to play.
Italy will play their first knockout game on Saturday, June 26th, though they won’t know their opponent until Monday the 21st when both Groups B and C wrap up their match day three. The Italians will face the second-place finishers of one of those groups depending on where they finish in their own group after their final game against Wales on Sunday.
June 24 update: Italy easily finished at the top of Group A as they won all three of their games without even conceding a goal. They’ll face off against Austria in the Round of 16 and are heavily favored to advance to the quarter finals.
Belgium (Group B) — Clinched on June 17
Belgium stormed back in the second half against Denmark to win 2-1 and secure a spot in the knockout round. There’s a slight chance Belgium finishes third in the group if Finland wins by a massive margin and Russia does the same against Denmark, but six points is enough to get into the knockout round among qualifying third place teams if that were to happen. Given how the first two matches have played out, that’s unlikely to be the case.
The biggest positive sign for fans and bettors backing Belgium was Kevin De Bruyne’s return to form in this match. The midfielder suffered a facial injury in the Champions League final and missed the opening match of Euro 2020, but had a goal and an assist in the win over Denmark. De Bruyne is a candidate for the best player of the tournament and showed why Thursday.
June 24 update: Belgium won all three of their games in the group stage and finished atop Group B with nine points — six points clear of second-place Denmark. Led by Romelu Lukaku with three goals, the Belgians will take on the reigning UEFA Euro champs Portugal in their Round of 16 game.
Netherlands (Group C) — Clinched on June 17
Netherlands had a scare against Ukraine, but held on for a 3-2 victory before securing qualification to the group stage with a 2-0 win over Austria. Denzel Dumfries is emerging as a scorer for the Dutch with Memphis Depay continuing to be his usual self. Frank de Boer’s group is looking for more success in the knockout round.
After failing to reach the knockout round in 2012 and the Euro competition entirely in 2016, the Dutch have a great opportunity to make a deep run in this year’s tournament. They still may not win the group with certain results, but they’re definitely in the top two as Ukraine and Austria play each other in the final group stage game. Netherlands will play their knockout game on June 26 or 27 depending on their finish in Group C.
June 24 update: The Netherlands went undefeated in group play, winning all three of their games while only conceding two goals — both to Ukraine. They finished first place in Group C and will take on the Czech Republic in the Round of 16.
Wales (Group A) — Clinched on June 20
It came down to the final day of group play for Wales to know if they’d be advancing to the knockouts or not. They were sitting pretty in second place heading into that final day, but Switzerland was only behind by three points and five goals in the differential column, so Wales needed some sort of combination to at least keep them on top if the Swiss beat Turkey. Turns out that’s exactly what happened as Switzerland beat Turkey 3-1, and Wales only lost by one to Italy so they finished with a +1 goal differential, which was enough to clinch a second place finish.
They’ll go up against Denmark in the Round of 16, and without Christian Eriksen they could have a shot at moving on. If they advance, they’ll play the winner of Netherlands-Czech Republic for a chance to head to the semi finals.
Austria (Group C) — Clinched on June 21
Austria clinched a spot in the knockout stage after defeating Ukraine 1-0. It finishes second in Group C and will meet a red-hot Italy team in the knockout round on June 26. Austria has a lot of talent with David Alaba, Cristoph Baumgartner and Marko Arnautovic, but it will need a perfect performance to take down Italy.
This is Austria’s first appearance in the knockout stage at the European championship. The country has only made the Euros three times in its history with the previous two trips coming in 2008 and 2016.
Denmark (Group B) — Clinched on June 21
Denmark needed the right results to advance on goal differential and did just that in a 4-1 win over Russia. Despite watching star Christian Eriksen collapse in the first match against Finland, Denmark held its nerve for the rest of the stage as results played out in their favor. Belgium scored a 2-0 win over Finland to help Denmark hold the best goal differential among itself, Finland and Russia.
The Danes did not qualify for the Euro in 2016, but have a strong history in the competition. They made the tournament every time from 1984-2004, even winning the title in 1992. With Eriksen recovering but unable to compete, you can bet Denmark will be a underdog many fans will back to go all the way.
June 24 update: Denmark finished in second place in Group B and will take on Wales in their Round of 16 match.
Switzerland (Group A) — Clinched 3rd place spot on June 21
The Swiss knocked off Turkey 3-1 in their last game of the group stage to clinch the third spot in Group A on the final day of group play. A draw would have given them third place also, but they would have missed out on advancing as they would have been the worst third-place team with two points. As it stood, goals from Haris Seferovic and Xherdan Shaqiri, who bagged a brace, were enough to secure the win and get them through to the next round, sitting on four points after all three games.
Their time in the knockout round may be short-lived as they’ll be going up against the reigning World Cup champions France, who won the group of death and were favorites to win coming into the tournament. It’ll take a miracle for Switzerland to knock off the top dogs, but they’ll have to rely on guys like Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka to push the attack in hopes of getting a lead up on the French.
Ukraine (Group C) — Clinched 3rd place spot on June 21
Ukraine only logged a single win in the group stage with a 2-1 victory over North Macedonia, but it was enough to get them through and secure a third-place advancement by the skin of their teeth with a -1 goal differential, edging out Finland who also finished with three points but had a -2 differential. The Ukrainians nearly split points with the Netherlands in their opening game as it looked like they were heading to a draw after back-to-back goals from Yarmolenko and Yaremchuk made it 2-2 heading into the 80th minute. Dumfries pulled another back for the Dutch in the 85th minute, solidifying their 3-2 win. Ukraine closed out the group stage with a 1-0 loss to Austria.
They’ll now set their sights on the Round of 16 where they’ll first meet up with Sweden, but it’s already been a “win” for Ukraine as this is the first time they’ve ever made it past the group stage in the European championships. They qualified in 2012 and 2016, but were eliminated in the group stage in both, winning only one of their six games played in those two tournaments. They’ll look to come out and shock Sweden in the Round of 16, but the Swedes are favored here and will most likely not have much trouble advancing.
England (Group D) — Clinched on June 22
England wrapped up their group stage campaign in first place thanks to a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic. They didn’t have much to show in their attack as they only managed to score two goals through all three games, with Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling grabbing both of them. It was enough to lock up the top spot in Group D though, as each of those goals was a game winner in 1-0 finishes against Croatia and Czech Republic, while England’s contest against Scotland ended in a scoreless draw.
The Three Lions will face off against Germany on June 29th in London, and they’ve got their work cut out for them. They’ll have to find a way to score against Germany’s solid defense, and can’t just rely on Raheem Sterling to take care of the finishing for them. England has plenty of capable attackers in the likes of Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Jack Grealish, so scoring shouldn’t be a problem for them if they’re firing on all cylinders. Germany won’t be an easy task, but if they can get past them in the Round of 16, they’ll move on to play against the winner of Sweden-Ukraine in the quarter finals.
Croatia (Group D) — Clinched on June 22
Croatia, led by midfielder Luka Modric, clinched their berth into the knockout rounds with a 3-1 win over Scotland on the last day of their group play. Vlasic opened the scoring in the 17th minute while Modric and Perisic each added a goal in the second half to take the much-needed three points. That left them tied on points with the Czech Republic, but they won the tiebreaker on goals scored and finished second place in Group D.
Croatia has been in every Euro competition since 1996, but have failed to make it past the quarter finals each time. They made it to the Round of 16 in 2016, but lost a close 1-0 game to Portugal in extra time. They’ll face off with Spain in their first knockout game which won’t be an easy task, and if they win that one they’ll most likely have to play against France in the next round, so they’ve got a mighty tough road ahead of them if they want to make a deep run this year.
Czech Republic (Group D) — Clinched 3rd place spot on June 22
The Czech Republic only won once in the group stage — a 2-0 victory over Scotland — while they logged a 1-1 draw to Croatia and finished up with a 1-0 loss to England. Patrik Schick leads the way with three goals, including a brace in their opening match which featured a world-class goal heard around the world. In fact, Schick scored all of his team’s goals, following up the first two with a successful penalty kick in the 1-1 draw with Croatia.
Now they’ll butt heads with a fantastic Netherlands team who cruised through Group C, winning all three of their games and clinching the top spot. They’ve had a decent run in the past, making it to the semi finals in 2004 and the quarter finals again in 2012, and they even won the championship back in 1976 when they were still Czechoslovakia. Still, it’s no surprise that the Dutch are favored to win this one, and the Czech Republic will have to find someone to help Schick out in the goal-scoring department if they want to have a chance of advancing to the quarter finals.
Sweden (Group E) — Clinched on June 23
Sweden, with a thrilling 3-2 win over Poland thanks to a goal from Viktor Claesson in the 4th minute of stoppage time, clinched first place in Group E just in the nick of time. A draw would have seen them finish in second place just behind Spain, especially with the Spanish’s +5 goal differential after their 5-0 drubbing of Slovakia. This was Sweden’s second win of the group stage, as they opened the campaign with a scoreless draw with Spain, followed up by a 1-0 win over Slovakia. Emil Forsberg is currently the team’s leading scorer with three goals, while Claesson is the only other player to have notched a goal in the group stage.
The Swedes will take on Ukraine and are favored to win without much trouble. RBR Leipzig star Forsberg will certainly be leading the way, creating plenty of chances for Sweden to go ahead and run away with the game. If they advance past Ukraine, they’ll be taking on the winner of England and Germany which could get dicey. This is Sweden’s seventh appearance in the tournament, with their best finish coming in 1992 when they reached the semi finals. They hit the quarter finals in 2004 also, but crashed out in the group stage in each competition otherwise.
Spain (Group E) — Clinched on June 23
Spain surprisingly didn’t clinch a spot until the very last day of play in Group E, when they easily took down Slovakia with a 5-0 score line. In addition to two on goals on Slovakia’s part, the Spanish side added goals from Aymeric Laporte, Pablo Sarabia, and Ferran Torres. Everything hinged on this match for Spain, because coming into it they were only sitting on two points, having logged draws in their first two matches against Sweden and Poland. If Slovakia could have pulled off a win or a draw, then they would have been sitting pretty in second place and Spain might not have advanced.
Nonetheless, they’ll turn their focus to to Croatia in the Round of 16 where they’re heavily favored to advance. If they do get past the Croatians, they’ll play the winner of France-Switzerland, and let’s be honest, we all are 99 percent sure who will be advancing out of that one. So the road ahead could be a little rocky for Spain, and they’re not quite the supergiants they once were when you could automatically assume they’ll win the majority of their games.
France (Group F) — Clinched on June 23
While France wasn’t quite as dominant as they were expected to be in the group stage, they still finished at the top of the group with five points after a 1-0 victory over Germany, a 1-1 draw with Hungary, and another 2-2 draw with Portugal on the final day of group play. The group of death was no cake walk, and Hungary made a case for themselves by drawing two of their games against some of the world’s best teams. Karim Benzema leads the way with two goals while Antoine Griezmann added one of his own, and surprisingly the young superstar Kylian Mbappe didn’t get on the score sheet at all through the first three games.
France will now meet up with Switzerland in the Round of 16, and they are massively favored to win, which is a surprise to nobody, really. The reigning World Cup champions are still one of the favorites to win the competition overall, and they’re poised to make a deep run especially with a lopsided first match-up in the Round of 16. If they advance, they’ll play the winner of Croatia-Spain, and then could meet up with any number of teams including Belgium, Portugal, and Italy.
Germany (Group F) — Clinched on June 23
The four-time World Cup champions almost didn’t make it out of the group stage. They were just minutes away from dropping a 2-1 result against Hungary on the last day of group play, which would have left them with three points and sitting last place in the table. Luckily for the Germans, Leon Goretzka found an equalizer in the 84th minute that turned the game around completely, earning a 2-2 draw and a second-place finish in Group F.
They’ll take on the Group D winners England in their Round of 16 match, which should be a thriller for both sides. Kai Havertz leads the scoring for Germany with two, while Goretzka and Robin Gosens have a goal apiece. Own goals played a big part in their campaign as well, as two of those in their 4-2 win over Portugal helped them lock down a ticket to the knockouts. England is currently favored to win, but not by much, and anything can happen when these two sides meet up. If Germany gets past the Three Lions, they’ll face off with the winner of Sweden-Ukraine.
Portugal (Group F) — Clinched third place spot on June 23
The reigning UEFA European champions didn’t have an easy time in the group of death, but they made it out with a third-place finish thanks to a +1 goal differential. Portugal opened the campaign with a 3-0 win over Hungary, but those three goals didn’t start coming until the 84th minute when Raphael Guerreiro broke the 0-0 deadlock. Cristiano Ronaldo added two more to finish off the job. They lost their next game to Germany 4-2, then finished up the group stage with a 2-2 draw with France.
Ronaldo is the current golden boot leader with five goals, a full two goals clear of anyone else on his trail. The 36-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down in what is sure to be his last-ever UEFA Euro competition, since he’ll be 39 and most likely retired when the next one comes around. Portugal will look to win back-to-back titles this year, but the road to the final won’t be easy as they first have to get through Belgium, who won all three of their group stage games and seem to be flying high with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne. If Portugal were to advance, they’ll meet up with the winner of Italy-Austria in the quarter finals.