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Euro 2024: Looking at How Many Points Third-Place Finishers Need to Advance

Euro 2024: Looking at How Many Points Third-Place Finishers Need to Advance

This is the third European Championships since the expansion to 24 teams, in which the four best-ranked third-place finishers will join the group winners and runners-up in the round of 16 at Euro 2024.
But how many points do teams in third require to progress? Well, ahead of the final set of group games, that commence on Sunday night, we look back at 64 tournaments with either a 12 or 24-team format to answer that question, offering hope for supporters of Scotland, Slovenia and others.

Please note, Mexico ’86 and Italia ’90 were both in the two-points-for-a-win era, but these have been converted into modern-day three-points-for-a-victory.

How Many Points Do Third Place Finishers Need To Advance?

Previous Tournaments Assessed Ahead of Euro 2024 Knockouts:

FIFA World Cup X3: 1986, 1990 & 1994.

European Championships X2: 2016 & 2020.

FIFA Women’s World Cup X4: 1991, 1995, 2015 & 2019.

AFC Asian Cup X4: 1996, 2000, 2019 & 2024.

Africa Cup of Nations X3: 2019, 2022 & 2024.

Copa América X10: 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2015 & 2019.

Read More: Top Five Greatest European Championships Upsets

CONCACAF Gold Cup X7: 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 & 2017.

Women’s European Championships X2: 2009 & 2013.

Women’s Africa Cup of Nations X1: 2022.

Women’s Olympic Games X4: 2008, 2012, 2016 & 2021.

CONCACAF W Gold Cup X1: 2024.

FIFA Under-20 World Cup X13: 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 & 2023.

FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup X2: 2002 & 2004.

FIFA Under-17 World Cup X8: 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 & 2023.

1 Point- 0%

Of the ten teams who’ve finished third on just one point, unsurprisingly none of them have advanced.

2 Points- 17%

Of the 35 teams who’ve finished third on two points, a surprisingly-high six of them have done enough to get through.

Both Bulgaria and Uruguay did so at Mexico ’86, back when it was only two points for a win, possibly skewing the data slightly, while the most-recent team to achieve this is Paraguay at Copa América 2019.

Read More: Reliving Three Lions on the Shirt, but Germany Wins Euro 1996

3 Points and a Negative Goal Difference- 45%

This is where it gets interesting; of the 83 teams who’ve come third on three points with a negative goal difference, 37 have progressed.
At Euro 2020, Ukraine advanced with this tally, while Finland and Slovakia were eliminated, with the data giving a team a 44.58% chance of advancing, on three points and a negative goal difference, as just under half of teams have done so.

3 Points and a Goal Difference of zero- 84%

25 teams have finished third on three points with a goal difference of zero, 21 of which have progressed including, most famously, Portugal at Euro 2016, drawing all three group games, before going onto win the whole tournament.

3 Points and a Positive Goal Difference- 71%

Just 14 teams have come third with three points and a positive goal difference, ten of which reached the next round, with Russia at USA ’94 the most high-profile outlier.

No, this does not mean it’s better to have a goal difference of zero, as oppose to a positive goal difference, it’s the smaller sample size that leads to this statistical quirk.

4 Points- 97%

Of the 115 teams who’ve finished third on four points, by far the most-common outcome, a whopping 112 of them have qualified for the next round, the sole exceptions Zambia at the 1999 U20 World Cup, Portugal at the 2019 edition of the same tournament and Canada at the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

6 Points- 100%

All nine teams who’ve finished third on six points have progressed, including both Argentina and Belgium and USA ’94 and Brazil at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Who does this affect at Euro 2024?

Ahead of Scotland’s clash with Hungary on Sunday night, this shows that victory for the Tartan Army in Stuttgart will take their tally to four points, which would all but guarantee Steve Clarke’s team a place in the knockout stages – while a draw gives them only a minuscule chance of remaining in the competition.

Similarly, in Group B, both Croatia and Albania require victories, against Italy and Spain respectively, on Monday night to be in with a shout of getting through.

In contrast, in Group C, Denmark and Slovenia have a pair of 1-1 draws to their name, while a third stalemate for either, or perhaps both, would give them a pretty good chance of featuring in the round of 16.

Read MoreEuro 2024 Matchday 10 Predictions Including Switzerland vs Germany

Over in Group D, with Poland already having been eliminated, the remaining trio are all in a great position to progress, with current third-placed side Austria needing just a point against the Netherlands to be sure – while even defeat for Ralf Rangnick’s team may not see them exit, assuming it isn’t by an emphatic margin.

Group E is, without a doubt, the most interesting, given that all four sides currently have three points, meaning it’s all to play for.

Lastly, in Group F, Georgia and Czechia will surely require victories, against Portugal and Türkiye respectively, to avoid crashing out.

Can Scotland qualify with a draw against Hungary?

A draw with Hungary in Stuttgart on Sunday night would see the Tartan Army finish third on just two points, with a -4 goal difference.

Our above research gives them just a 17% chance of remaining in the competition, and there are a set of results that could make this possible.

They are: Spain beat Albania, Italy beat Croatia, Türkiye beat Czechia and Portugal beat Georgia, all of which are possible.

Or, Scotland could just beat Hungary – thereby guaranteeing their passage into the round of 16, but it’s never that simple!


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