The UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament is in full swing, with 20 teams vying for a place in the final tournament to join hosts Germany. The competition is linked with the 2022–23 UEFA Nations League, which gives countries a secondary route to qualify for the final tournament.
So far, nine teams have secured their qualification: **Spain**, **Scotland**, **France**, **England**, **Turkey**, **Belgium**, **Austria** and **Portugal**. The remaining 11 spots will be decided by the end of the group stage in November 2023 or by the playoffs in March 2024.
Here is a recap of some of the recent matches that took place in October 2023:
– **England** vs **Italy**: The two finalists of Euro 2020 met again in a thrilling match at Wembley Stadium. England came out on top with a 2-1 victory, thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling. Lorenzo Insigne scored Italy’s consolation goal. The result meant England clinched the top spot in Group C with four wins out of four, while Italy dropped to second place with nine points from five games.
– **Spain** vs **Scotland**: The reigning champions of the Nations League faced a resilient Scotland side at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Spain dominated possession and created chances, but Scotland defended well and kept the score at 0-0 until the 89th minute when Álvaro Morata broke the deadlock with a header from a Dani Olmo cross. The late goal secured Spain’s qualification from Group A as the winners, while Scotland also qualified as the runners-up with 10 points from six games.
– **Ireland** vs **Greece**: A crucial match for both teams in Group H, as they were tied on seven points after four games. Ireland took the lead in the first half through Shane Long, who converted a penalty after being fouled by Kostas Manolas. Greece equalized in the second half through Dimitris Pelkas, who volleyed in a cross from Giorgos Masouras. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, leaving both teams in third and fourth place behind leaders Netherlands and second-placed Croatia.
– **Austria** vs **Belgium**: A top-of-the-table clash in Group F, as both teams had won all their previous games. Austria stunned Belgium with an early goal from Marko Arnautović, who pounced on a mistake by Thibaut Courtois and slotted the ball into an empty net. Belgium fought back and equalized in the second half through Romelu Lukaku, who headed in a cross from Kevin De Bruyne. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, which was enough for both teams to qualify for the final tournament as the top two teams in the group.
– **France** vs **Netherlands**: A blockbuster match in Group B, as both teams had won all their previous games. France took the lead in the first half through Kylian Mbappé, who scored a brilliant solo goal after dribbling past several defenders. Netherlands equalized in the second half through Memphis Depay, who curled in a free kick from the edge of the box. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, which was enough for France to qualify for the final tournament as the group winners, while Netherlands remained in second place with 13 points from five games.
– **Belgium** vs **Sweden**: A decisive match for both teams in Group F, as they were fighting for the third place that could lead to a playoff spot. Belgium took control of the game from the start and scored three goals in the first half through Eden Hazard, Youri Tielemans and Romelu Lukaku. Sweden pulled one back in the second half through Alexander Isak, but it was too little too late. The game ended in a 3-1 win for Belgium, who secured their qualification for the final tournament as the group’s runners-up, while Sweden were eliminated from contention.
The qualifying group stage will resume in November 2023, with the final round of matches to determine the remaining teams that will join the qualified ones in the final tournament. The playoffs will take place in March 2024, with 12 teams competing for the last three spots. The draw for the final tournament will take place in April 2024, with the 24 teams divided into six groups of four. The final tournament will take place from 14 June to 14 July 2024 in Germany, with the final to be held at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
The recent UEFA EURO 2024 Qualifying matches have set a riveting narrative as teams display their prowess and strategy, all eyeing the grand European stage. As the qualifiers progress, the anticipation among football enthusiasts skyrockets, awaiting more football magic on the field.