20 participants from ten qualification groups – this is the mode of the games starting this week, which should lead to the EM 2024 in Germany. One group has it all.
It’s quite possible that this is the best news about the forthcoming first qualifiers for EURO 2024: “Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back!.” “Zlatan the Great” will indeed be back in Sweden’s squad when the Scandinavians play Belgium next Friday and face Azerbaijan on March 27.
Ibrahimovic only made his comeback at AC Milan at the end of February. A long-term knee injury, which resulted in cruciate ligament and meniscus surgery, prevented the Sweden striker from playing football for over eight months. On February 26, the 41-year-old made a comeback at club level in the 2-0 win over Atalanta Bergamo, and now he’s making a comeback with the national team.
20 teams qualify from ten qualifying groups
The qualifying group F is certainly one of the most interesting in the context of the European qualification, because a third comparably strong team is represented here with Austria. Only the first two places in the ten groups of five and six result in direct qualification for the tournament. Germany qualified directly as hosts, with the last three teams participating in play-offs in March 2024, in which twelve teams will participate based on their performance in the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League. Austria starts with two home games against outsiders: first against Azerbaijan, on March 27 against Estonia.
Big deal in Group B: France – Netherlands
While there are two fairly clear favorites in most of the ten groups, the biggest moment of tension may well be in Group B, which features three extremely strong sides in France, the Netherlands and Ireland, while Greece is another big-name outsider in this group. And off we go with a cracker game: On Friday, France and the Netherlands meet in Paris.
Ukraine has to assert itself against Italy and England
Group C, in which Ukraine is classified, is also interesting. The Ukrainians meet Italy and England, among others, and of course they have to hope that the two favorites slip up there in order to have a chance of participating in Germany. The two big teams will already meet on Thursday: Then it will be in Naples from 8.45 p.m.: Italy – England. Ukraine only get involved on Sunday, then travel to England.
Haaland and Co. start in Spain
In Group A, many fans will of course be excited to see Norway’s performance. Will Erling Haaland and Co manage to qualify for a major event this time? At the World Cup in Qatar, the Vikings had to watch last. For the EM, the forecasts do not look so bad. Spain are big favorites in the group, but Norway should be able to beat Scotland, Georgia and Cyprus. The first game has it all: Haaland and his colleagues will play in Spain on Friday.
Ten match days in five international breaks
The European Championship qualification will take place with two match days in five international breaks. Matchday 1 runs from March 23rd to 25th, followed by matchday two from March 26th to 28th. The remaining double matchdays per international break follow the same pattern: Matchday 3 (16/17 June), 4th matchday (19/20 June) – 5th matchday (7th to 9th September), 6th matchday Matchday (September 10-12) – Matchday 7 (October 12-14), Day 8 (October 15-17). The last round will take place in November: the 9th matchday will be played from November 16th to 18th, after which the teams will be in action for the last time on the 10th matchday from November 19th to 21st.
From March 21 to 26, 2024, the two semifinals and the final of the playoffs from the Nations League qualification will be played. There are no second legs – so the semi-finals are also played in knockout format.