The Victorious and Unfortunate Sides in EURO Playoffs History

Some teams have had consistently positive records in the EURO playoff, whereas others have been miserably unlucky.

The EURO 2024 playoffs have been completed, with three teams qualifying from each path. Unfortunately, none of the three finals became the next thrilling encounters in EURO playoff history, following the previous ones, with Scotland’s unexpected victory in Belgrade in the EURO 2020 playoff being the last one.

The duel between Ukraine and Iceland might have been the closest one as it was a tight affair. Serhiy Rebrov’s side was able to bounce back after trailing by one goal earlier in the first half. Roman Yaremchuk bagged an equalizer, whereas Chelsea’s Mykhaylo Mudryk scored a late winning goal. Yet, the other two finals ended in a goalless draw. Poland and Georgia eventually had to rely on penalties to beat Wales and Greece respectively, before snatching their tickets to Germany this summer.

Since the inaugural playoff in 1995, some teams have performed exceptionally well in this additional stage of the qualifying campaign. Yet, some others appear to have no luck in their favour. Check out which teams they are on below.

The Victorious Sides

Among those teams that have played in the playoffs, two deserve to be called the victorious ones. Hungary and Croatia have the best survival rates at this stage. So far, they have demonstrated convincingly positive results.

Hungary managed to pick up four wins in four games in the EURO playoffs. The Magyars had to go through that stage in the previous two EURO editions. They crushed Norway 3-1 on aggregate to seal one place in Euro 2016. Balázs Dzsudzsák and co did not disappoint their fans in the final round, as they managed to topple the eventual champions, Portugal, at the group stage and advanced to the round of 16. Unfortunately, they were dismantled by Belgium 4-0.

Four years later, Hungary once again secured one spot in EURO 2020 from a playoff stage. Marco Rossi’s men eased past Bulgaria 3-1 in the semifinal and defeated Iceland 2-1 in the final. Sadly, they were seeded the group of death, which included Germany, France, and Portugal in the final round. Their campaign was not as satisfactory as the previous edition, despite holding France and Germany in a draw. Their 3-1 defeat to Portugal at the opener was the catalyst for their elimination.

Meanwhile, Croatia’s record in the playoffs is two wins and two draws in four matches. Vatreni progressed from that stage to seal spots at EURO 2004 and 2012. They knocked out Slovenia 2-1 on aggregate (1-1; 1-0) in the former and eliminated Turkey with a 3-0 win on aggregate (3-0; 0-0) in the latter.

Surprisingly, their campaign in both editions ended prematurely as they failed to progress from the group stage. In Portugal 2004, Dado Pršo and co were only able to collect two points and sit third in the final standings, whereas in Poland-Ukraine 2012, Slaven Bilić’s side only managed to garner four points from a 3-1 win over the Republic of Ireland and a 1-1 draw versus Italy. Yet, they suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against the eventual champion, Spain.

The Unfortunate Sides

On the other side, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Norway are the unfortunate teams in EURO playoff history. Both have never been able to snatch a single win in all the games they have played at this stage. What makes them the worst of all is their constant failure. The Balkan side has appeared in the last four EURO playoff editions, whereas their Nordic counterpart did it in three editions. Sadly, both shared negative records.

Bosnia and Herzegovina had their first chance to qualify for the playoffs in 2011. Unfortunately, they were drawn to face off Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal to fight for one berth in EURO 2012. Miralem Pjanić and co expectedly lost 6-2 on aggregate.

Four years later, they were beaten 3-1 on aggregate versus the Republic of Ireland, despite having been able to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup a year before. In 2020, Bosnia once again had difficulty going through. This time, Northern Ireland was their obstacle. In the semifinal, Dusan Bajevic’s men held them in a 1-1 tie, but did not succeed on penalties. They replicated the same failure this year after a dramatic defeat to Ukraine.

Norway is no different from the Balkan side, with fewer appearances in the playoff. Their first chance to snatch a Euro ticket from this stage came in 2003. There, they had to take on Spain. As predicted, they were hapless and hammered 5-1 on aggregate.

Their second attempt in 2015 was even more devastating. Despite meeting the less strong side, Hungary, Per-Mathias Høgmo’s men were unable to snatch a berth in the final round. They suffered a 3-1 loss on aggregate. Their last opportunity came in 2020. In the semifinal, Martin Ødegaard and co were defeated 2-1 by Serbia after extra time.

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