Everything You Desperately Need To Know About The European Football Championships

By Ian John
November 22, 2023

This past week, we saw the conclusion of the qualification tournament for the 2024 European Football Championships, dubbed Euro 2024, which will take place in Germany in the summer.

A total of 20 teams qualified from the 10 groups, joining Germany, and the three winners from the Euro 2024 Playoff Paths, which take place in March 2024.

But what is special about this tournament? Who has hosted and won it previously? Which players have shone at the tournament and shown exceptional performances?

Then after everything we’ll give you our European Championships XI, a team picked from across the eras that features the players that have shone the brightest in this biggest of European National competitions.

As always, you can enjoy a wide range of bets on the tournament itself with bet365 Sport, including Outright betting right now, with England and France the current co-favourites to win the tournament next summer.

European Football Championships
Image by Coombesy from Pixabay


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History of the European Football Championships

The brainchild of Frenchmen Henri Delaunay, who wanted a European tournament to rival the already well-established Copa America, the initial reaction to the European Championships was lukewarm to say the least. The first tournament featured just four teams and it even in 1968, when England first entered (and finished 3rd) it was still a relatively low-key tournament.

That changed in 1980, when the tournament first featured two groups of four and since then it has grown from eight finalists, to 16, now to the 24 that make up the current event.

The trophy now bears the name of Mr Delaunay.

European Football Championships Host Nations

The European Football Championships tournament has been hosted by the following nations

  • 1960 – France
  • 1964 – Spain
  • 1968 – Italy
  • 1972 – Belgium
  • 1976 – Yugoslavia
  • 1980 – Italy
  • 1984 – France
  • 1988 – West Germany
  • 1992 – Sweden
  • 1996 – England
  • 2000 – Belgium & Netherlands
  • 2004 – Portugal
  • 2008 – Austria & Switzerland
  • 2012 – Poland & Ukraine
  • 2016 – France
  • 2020 – Held across Europe to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1st Euros tournament.
  • 2024 – Germany

Two future European Football Championships have also seen their host venues decided:

  • 2028 – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland
  • 2032 – Italy & Turkey

Winners & Runners Up

A total of 10 teams have won the European Football Championships trophy. In comparison just eight teams have won the FIFA World Cup.

  • Germany – 3 Wins (1972, 1980, 1996) + 3 Runners Up (1972, 1992, 2008)
  • Spain – 3 Wins (1964, 2008, 2012) + 1 Runner Up (1984)
  • Italy – 2 Wins (1968, 2020) + 2 Runners Up (2000, 2012)
  • France – 2 Wins (1984, 2000) + 1 Runner Up (2016)
  • Russia – 1 Win (1960) + 3 Runner Up (1964, 1972, 1988)
  • Czech Republic – 1 Win (1976) + 1 Runner Up (1996)
  • Portugal – 1 Win (2016) + 1 Runner Up (2004)
  • Netherlands – 1 win (1998)
  • Denmark – 1 Win (1992)
  • Greece – 1 Win (2004)

Other teams to have reached a final, but not win the tournament are:

  • Serbia (Yugoslavia) – 2 Runners Up (1960, 1968)
  • Belgium – 1 Runner Up (1980)
  • England – 1 Runner Up (2020)

Individual Records & Landmark Performances

  • Most Team Appearances in Finals – Germany – 13
  • Most Games in Euro Finals – Germany – 53
  • Most Wins in European Football Championships Finals Games – Germany 27 wins
  • Most Goals Scored in Euro Finals Games – Germany – 78
  • Best Total Goal Difference in Euro Finals Games – Spain – +26
  • Worst Total Goal Difference in Euro Finals Games – Serbia – -17
  • Number of teams never to have played in a Euro Finals – 20
  • Most Goals in a Single Euro Finals Tournament – Michel Platini (France) – 9 in 1984.
  • Most Tournaments Played – Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – 5 (to 2020)
  • Most Matches Played in Euro Finals – Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – 25
  • Most Goals Scored in Euro Finals Tournaments – Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – 14
  • Biggest Scoreline in Finals – Netherlands 6-1 Yugoslavia (2000) plus four other 5-0 scorelines.
  • Most Goals Scored by a Team in a Single Euro Finals – 14 – France – 1984
  • Most Penalty Shootout Wins – Italy & Spain – 4 each
  • Most Penalty Shootout Losses – England – 4

European Championships Fan Factfile

  • Brothers Taulent and Granit Xhaka played in the same game in the 2016 finals, but both on opposite teams. Granit played for his adopted Switzerland while Taulent represented Albania.
  • There were more own goals scored (10) in the 2020 European Championship Finals than there were in all the other previous finals combined (8).
  • The most goals scored in a single game at the Euro Finals came in 1960 when Yugoslavia defeated France 5-4.
  • France’s recent 14-0 win over Gibraltar was the biggest ever win in a European Championship finals or qualifiers tournament.
  • Luke Shaw’s goal for England against Italy in the final of Euro 2020 was the fastest ever goal scored in a European Championship Final at 2 minutes.
  • Three players have scored twice in a European Championship Final and all of them are German. Gerd Muller (in 1972), Horst Hrubesch (1980) and Oliver Bierhoff (1996).
  • The most goals scored in a qualifier is five. This has been achieved by three players, Malcolm McDonald (for England v Cyprus in 1975), Tibor Nyalisi (for Hungary v Luxembourg in 1975) and Marco Van Basten (for Netherlands v Malta in December 1990)
  • Romelu Lukaku’s 14 goals for Belgium in the Euro 2024 qualifiers is the most scored by a single player in the competition’s history.
  • Cristiano has 41 goals for Portugal in qualifying games for the Euro Finals. The most on record and his total of 55 goals in the competition in total (Qualifiers & Finals) is by far the best ever.
  • The oldest player ever to win a Euro Final was former Ipswich Town and Manchester United midfielder Arnold Muhren who was 37 years and 23 days old when he played for the Netherlands and beat the Soviet Union in 1988.

Euro 2024 in Germany – Details

Outlined below are key dates, news and other information you’ll need to be aware of between now and next summer’s big football tournament in Germany.

Key Dates

  • 2nd December 2023 – Draw for the Euro 2024 Finals Group Stage to be made in Hamburg. The draw for the 3 teams not yet allocated a spot in the Playoffs will also be completed at this point too.
  • 21st March 2024 – Euro 2024 Playoff Semi Finals played.
  • 26th March 2024 – Euro 2024 Playoff Finals are played. The final three teams that earn a place at the finals will be known at the end of these fixtures.
  • 7th June 2024 – All teams must have named their 23-man squad for the finals by this date.
  • 14th June 2024 – Opening ceremony and opening group game.
  • 26th June 2024 – Final Group Stage Games played
  • 29th June to 2nd July 2024 – Round of 16 matches played (Cologne, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Munich, Leipzig, Gelsenkirchen & Berlin)
  • 5th & 6th July 2024 – Quarter Final matches played (Stuttgart, Hamburg, Berlin, Dusseldorf)
  • 9th & 10th July 2024 – Semi Final matches played (Munich & Dortmund)
  • 14th July 2024 – Euro 2024 Final played at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

Venues to be used

  • Berlin – Olympiastadion (70,000) – 3 group games, Round of 16, Quarter Final and Final.
  • Cologne – Cologne Stadium (47,000) – 4 group games, Round of 16
  • Munich – AllianzArena (67,000) – 4 group games, Round of 16, Semi Final
  • Frankfurt – Frankfurt Arena (46,000) – 4 group games, Round of 16
  • Hamburg – Volksparkstadion (50,000) – 4 group games, Quarter Final
  • Dortmund – BVB Stadion (66,000) – 4 group games, Round of 16, Semi Final
  • Leipzig – Leipzig Stadium (42,000) – 3 group games, Round of 16
  • Gelsenkirchen – Arena AufSchalke (50,000) – 3 group games, Round of 16
  • Stuttgart – Stuttgart Arena (54,000) – 4 group games, Quarter Final
  • Dusseldorf – Dusseldorf Arena (47,000) – 3 group games, Round of 16, Quarter Final


  • Group Stage – 6 groups of 4 teams. Each team plays the other team in its group once. The top two from each group, plus the four third-place teams with the best records qualify for the next stage. The other six teams are eliminated.
  • Knockout Phase – The 16 qualifiers then face a series of one-off matches with extra time and penalties used to decide the winner until the tournament is complete. Teams start in the Round of 16, before the winners move on to the quarter finals. The four winners of the quarter finals contest the semi-finals with the two semi-final winners competing in the final.

21 Confirmed Qualifiers

  • Hosts – Germany
  • Group A – Spain & Scotland
  • Group B – France & Netherlands
  • Group C – England & Italy
  • Group D – Turkey & Croatia
  • Group E – Albania & Czechia
  • Group F – Belgium & Austria
  • Group G – Hungary & Serbia
  • Group H – Denmark & Slovenia
  • Group I – Romania & Switzerland
  • Group J – Portugal & Slovakia

The three playoff winners, Playoff Winner from Path A, Playoff Winner from Path B and Playoff Winner from Path C will join these 21 qualifiers in the finals tournament next summer.

We also know which pots each of the 21 qualifiers, plus the three playoff winners (see below) are allocated to for the draw.

  • Pot 1 – Germany (hosts), Portugal, France, Spain, Belgium, England
  • Pot 2 – Hungary, Turkey, Romania, Denmark, Albania, Austria
  • Pot 3 – Netherlands, Scotland, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czechia
  • Pot 4 – Italy, Serbia, Switzerland, Playoff Winner A, Playoff Winner B, Playoff Winner C

Hosts Germany are allocated into Group A and in the A1 position in this group to ensure that they play in the opening fixture of the Euro 2024 tournament.

Each group comprises of one team from each of the four pots and will be drawn at random on the 2nd December.

European Championships
AI Image

12 Euro 2024 Playoff Qualifiers

Three pathways will decide the 3 final qualifiers for the finals next summer. Currently we know where 9 of the 12 playoff teams will be placed in each pathway.

Path A

  • Poland (Seed 1) v Estonia (Seed 4)
  • Wales (Seed 2) v Finland/Iceland/Ukraine (Seed 3)

Path B

  • Israel (Seed 1) v Finland/Iceland/Ukraine (Seed 4)
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina (Seed 2) v Finland/Iceland/Ukraine (Seed 3)

Path C

  • Georgia (Seed 1) v Luxembourg (Seed 4)
  • Greece (Seed 2) v Kazakhstan (Seed 3)

Finland, Iceland and Ukraine all qualify either for Pot A or B and will be drawn to one of those positions prior to the main Euro 2024 Group Stage draw on December 2nd in Hamburg.

It promises to be a hugely exciting tournament next summer and remember you can catch all the latest betting markets for the tournament and throughout it at bet365 Sport!

Finally, let’s bring you our greatest ever European Championships XI, a team picked from players that have shone in this tournament in particular since it was first contested in 1960.

The Greatest Ever European Championships XI (1960 to 2020)

For this team, we are going to go with a 4-4-2 formation.

  • Goalkeeper – Peter Schmeichel (Denmark – 1992)

The big Danish keeper was pivotal to the Danes stunning win in the 1992 tournament, especially his performance in the penalty shootout in the semi-final with the Netherlands. The big Dane was a huge presence in Denmark’s sensational win.

  • Right Back – Ruud Krol (Netherlands – 1976, 1980)

The Ajax full back was one of the most talented to play the game and fitted the Dutch ethos of total football perfectly. He was a key performer at both finals, being named in the team of the tournament in 1980, despite being in a below average Dutch team at the time.

  • Left Back – Andreas Brehme (Germany – 1984, 1988, 1992)

The World Cup winning left back played in three European Championships for Germany and played so well he made two teams of the tournament in 1984 and 1992.

  • Central Defender 1 – Gaetano Scirea (Italy – 1980)

The elegant Juventus skipper was at the heart of Italy;s defiant defence in the 1980 tournament on home soil. Italy scored just two goals in that tournament, but conceded just one and part of that was the masterful backline led by Scirea and with GK Zoff and fellow CB Gentile alongside him.

  • Central Defender 2 – Franz Beckenbauer (Germany – 1972, 1976)

Der Kaiser was at his imperious best as he led Germany to their first ever European Championship victory in 1972. With the goals of Gerd Muller ensuring the Germans progressed to the final where they beat the Soviet Union 3-0.

  • Central Midfielder 1 – Michel Platini (France – 1984)

No player has ever dominated a European Championship Finals as Michel Platini did in 1984. He not only led France to victory but scored nine goals in total, including two ‘perfect’ hat-tricks and capped it with the winning goal in what is still arguably the best ever European Championship Finals game of all time in the semi-final win over Portugal.

YouTube video
  • Right Midfielder/Winger – Antoine Griezmann (France 2016)

Finishing with the second-best total of six goals in the tournament, Antoine Griezmann deserves a place in this team after playing a pivotal role in France’s trip to the final on home soil. Even if that journey ended in an extra time loss to Portugal.

  • Attacker 1 – Fernando Torres (Spain – 2004, 2008, 2012)

The Spanish ace became the first player to score in two Europea Championship finals when he netted a goal in Spain’s 4-0 win over Italy in 2012. He had scored the winner back in the 2004 final when his lovely chipped finish saw Spain win their second title in beating Germany.

  • Attacker 2 – Marco Van Basten (Netherlands – 1988)

The brilliant Van Basten started the tournament on the bench, but after a loss to Russia, Van Basten started against England, netting a hat-trick before scoring the winner in the semi-final with Germany and the greatest ever European Championships goal against Russia in the final.

YouTube video
  • Central Midfielder 2 – Zinedine Zidane (France – 1996, 2000, 2004)

Zizou played at three European Championship finals, but his performances in 1996 and 2004 are less impressive than in 2000. He was named as the top player of the tournament as he played a pivotal role in leading France to their victory scoring goals in the quarter final and semi-final.

  • Left Midfielder/Winger – Dragan Dzajic (Yugoslavia 1968, 1976)

Perhaps one of the lesser known greats of European soccer, Dzajic was a key player for Yugoslavia at two finals, scoring a total of six goals across the two, as well as being a provider of chances for his team mates.

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