EURO 2020 play-offs: semi-finals preview

Sixteen teams will participate in the competition’s new-look play-offs for the remaining four spaces at UEFA EURO 2020. The eight semi-finals all take place on Thursday 8 October, with four final ties then scheduled for 12 November. looks through the first tranche of matches.

Meet the 20 qualified teams

Path A: Bulgaria v Hungary (20:45)

European Qualifiers: How the play-offs work

European Qualifiers: How the play-offs work

The home side’s last appearance in the finals was 2004 and they will have to belie their form since the inaugural UEFA Nations League if they are to progress – Bulgaria picked up just one win in EURO qualifying and that is their sole success in 16 matches. Hungary’s recent results are little better – six defeats in eight games – but their recent victory in Turkey, coupled with their run to the round of 16 in UEFA EURO 2016 via the play-offs, suggests they relish the big occasion.

Path A: Iceland v Romania (20:45) 

Iceland were the great overachievers at EURO 2016, beating England en route to the last eight, and won four of their five home matches in the qualifying campaign this time around so will feel confident in a one-off contest in Reykjavik. Romania have reached four of the last six EUROs – progressing directly from their qualifying group – yet have history hanging over them having lost both their previous FIFA World Cup play-offs.

Path B: Bosnia and Herzegovina v Northern Ireland (20:45)

Highlights: Italy 1-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Highlights: Italy 1-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina have fallen at this stage in each of the last two editions but may take comfort from the fact they did not lose the home leg on either occasion. Clean sheets have been hard to come by for both these teams, with Northern Ireland shipping 12 goals in their last four away games, so Ian Baraclough’s charges will need to tighten up if they are to book a second consecutive EURO ticket.

Path B: Slovakia v Republic of Ireland (20:45)

No team have featured more in the play-offs than Ireland, who have become increasingly proficient at this stage, winning the last two of their four ties. They’ve never lost an away leg in those previous eliminators either so Slovakia, who only have a victory against Azerbaijan from their last five home games, have been warned. Pavel Hapal’s side have just one clean sheet in 11 matches while the visitors have mustered a mere 14 goals in 16 games – whoever improves on their respective record may prosper here.

The 20 qualified teams: form guide

Path C
: Norway v Serbia (20:45)

Highlights: Northern Ireland 1-5 Norway

Highlights: Northern Ireland 1-5 Norway

Four defeats from four play-off matches does not give Norway much hope of a first EURO finals appearance since 2000. However, their recent results are arguably better than those of any other side in action, with just three defeats in 22 games, and they arrive here off the back of an Erling Haaland-inspired 5-1 win in…

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