EURO 2020 play-off finals: preview

The remaining four spaces at UEFA EURO 2020 will be decided on Thursday 12 November when eight teams line up in the four play-off finals.

Meet the qualified teams

Path A: Hungary vs Iceland (20:45 CET) 

Highlights: Bulgaria 1-3 Hungary

Highlights: Bulgaria 1-3 Hungary

Two of UEFA EURO 2016’s surprise packages meet in Budapest. Iceland famously saw off England en route to the quarter-finals four years ago, and while the coach and some of the players have changed, the industry and efficiency that was their hallmark has not. Iceland’s semi-final win against Romania was much more comfortable than the 2-1 scoreline suggests.

Hungary also eased through the semis, brushing aside Bulgaria 3-1, and after a disappointing 2019 Marco Rossi’s side have hit a rich vein of form at just the right time. Victories over Turkey and Serbia, plus a draw in Russia, have raised hopes of a return to the stage where Hungary played perhaps the game of the tournament in 2016.

The Path A winners join Portugal, France and Germany in Group F.

Path B: Northern Ireland vs Slovakia (20:45 CET)

Highlights: Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-1 Northern Ireland (pens: 3-4)

Highlights: Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-1 Northern Ireland (pens: 3-4)

Slovakia have changed their coach since seeing off the Republic of Ireland on spot kicks last month, with Štefan Tarkovič taking temporary charge. Pavel Hapal departed after a run of only one win in nine matches, and two clean sheets in 14 – late goals have been their Achilles heel – but the team captained by 33-year-old Marek Hamšík were still a whisker away from automatic qualification.

Northern Ireland haven’t been tearing up trees either over the past 12 months, and are seven games without a win if their impressive penalty shoot-out triumph over Bosnia and Herzegovina is classed as a draw. That semi-final saw Ian Baraclough’s men introduce two late substitutes for the spot kicks – and both converted successfully. The dream of a repeat of UEFA EURO 2016 is alive.

 The Path B winners join Spain, Sweden and Poland in Group E.

The qualified teams: form guide

Path C: Serbia vs Scotland (20:45 CET)

Highlights: Norway 1-2 Serbia (aet)

Highlights: Norway 1-2 Serbia (aet)

You have to go back to EURO ’96 for the last time Scotland were at the finals – is a 25-year wait almost over? Steve Clarke’s side are certainly shaping up well, overcoming Israel in the semis and riding the crest of a wave that means they come into this fixture eight matches unbeaten, their longest such streak since the mid-80s.

Scotland have been close before though, and in Serbia they face an inconsistent team that are, on their day, a match for anyone. The Serbians succeeded where so many have failed recently and kept Erling Braut Haaland quiet in the last four, while Sergej Milinković-Savić and Aleksandar Mitrović are beginning to click.

The Path C winners join England, Croatia and Czech Republic in Group D.

Path D: Georgia vs North Macedonia (18:00 CET)

Highlights: North Macedonia 2-1 Kosovo

Highlights: North Macedonia 2-1 Kosovo

Georgia have proved a tough nut to crack in recent years and neither Denmark nor Ireland…

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