EURO 2020 qualification is reaching squeaky bum time but Scotland can already set their sights on the play-offs in Spring.
Steve Clarke’s team are out of the running for an automatic spot, but will have a home semi-final in March.
How do you earn a Euro 2020 qualifying play-off place?
As in Euro 2016, 24 teams will qualify for the tournament – but there are now two ways of getting there.
The top two in each of the ten qualifying groups will automatically progress to the tournament in 2020, leaving four spots still available.
These will be decided by the play-offs but this is where it gets interesting – those awarded play-off places are not decided during qualifying but from the Uefa Nations League tournament.
The four group winners from each league in the Uefa Nations League, including England, are already assured of a play-off place.
- League A: Switzerland, Portugal, Holland and England
- League B: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Denmark and Sweden
- League C: Scotland, Norway, Serbia and Finland
- League D: Georgia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Belarus
Any teams who automatically qualify for the tournament through the Euro 2020 qualifying phase, will be replaced in the play-off by the next best ranked team in their League – for example, Belgium is next in line for League A, Russia for B, Bulgaria in C and Luxembourg in D.
If there are less than four teams that are yet to qualify from a League then the spots are filled with sides from another League in accordance with the Uefa Nations League rankings – but group winners will not be moved up into a play-off with a higher League.
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How will the play-offs work?
In previous tournaments, all of those through to the play-offs go into a draw and the winners of those ties earn a spot in the major competition.
But this time around, each League will have their own separate play-off tournament, with a single-leg semi-final before a final to determine who will claim the Euro 2020 place.
This means Georgia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Belarus are set to battle it out for a place in next year’s competition.
Whichever team performed best in each league will host the qualifier that performed worst, with the second best qualifier hosting the third best qualifier.
That means that Scotland are guaranteed a home play-off semi-final.
However, any of the four participating nations in each league’s play-offs could host the final, with a draw being held on November 22 to decide where each final will be.
The play-offs will be played at the end of March 2020 ahead of the June/July tournament.
Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs fixtures
Iceland vs TBC
TBC vs TBC
Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Northern Ireland
Slovakia vs Republic of Ireland
Scotland vs TBC
Norway vs Serbia
Georgia vs Belarus
North Macedonia vs Kosovo