The group winner will qualify directly for the final
tournament. The group runner-up will be paired by draw with one of the
nine other group runners-up for home and away playoff matches to be played in
November, 2003 with the winner advancing to the final tournament.
If two or more teams finish group play with the same number
of points, their position in the group will be determined by these criteria:
a) Number of
points obtained in the matches among the teams in question
b) Goal difference resulting from
the matches among the teams in question
c) Number of away goals in the
matches among the teams in question
d) Results of all
− Goal difference
− Number of goals
− Number of away goals
e) Fair play conduct of the teams
f) Drawing of lots
England, seeded 17th
among the 50 teams, were in the second group of seeds for the preliminary draw
held on 25 January 2002 in Oporto, Portugal, and thus were likely to face one of
the top-seeded football powers--France, Italy, Germany or Spain--or at least one
of the top-seeded teams that had proven difficult for them in the past, Sweden or
Romania. But the luck of the draw appeared to treat them kindly for once despite the
prospect of Group 7 fixtures in Turkey, Slovakia, Macedonia and Liechtenstein.
campaign would lack the glamour of matches against traditional powers like Italy
or Germany or even a traditional opponent like Sweden, but the plus side, as it
appeared at the time of the draw, was that
England had to be regarded as heavy favourites to top the group. The
top-seeded team England would face, Turkey, had given them little
trouble in the past. In eight previous World Cup and European
Championship preliminary matches, Turkey had failed to score against England,
and the only blot on England's record was the scoreless away draw in
The Turks, however, undoubtedly
improved greatly since England last met them in 1993. They had reached the
quarterfinals of the European Championship 2000 final tournament, a better
showing than England, eliminated at the group phase, and had just qualified for
the World Cup finals for the first time since 1954. Moreover, as English club sides
had recently discovered in European competition, a visit to Turkey is far
from a pleasurable experience,
some observers comparing the cauldron of passion and emotion greeting foreign
teams at Turkish stadiums to Hell.
England had never
faced the group's other three teams, Slovakia and Macedonia largely because they came
into being only on the breakup of the Soviet bloc in the early 1990's and little
Liechtenstein because, as one of Europe's weakest teams, they have not warranted
consideration for a friendly match and have managed to avoid England in previous
A five-hour meeting of Group 7
team representatives in Istanbul on 11 March failed to produce an agreement on the group's
fixtures. England wanted both matches with Turkey played early in the
campaign, while Turkey wanted its home match against England played
later. Eventually the teams agreed to let UEFA resolve the fixture
list by drawing lots.
The session ended in
rancour with Turkish officials blasting English intransigence. "England
were uncompromising in the face of all the alternatives we presented. It is very
disappointing," Turkish Football Federation official Selami Ozdemir
said. "We couldn't understand what they wanted. They wanted the first
match in England and we agreed. We wanted the last group match to be with them
in Turkey. They said that wasn't convenient for security reasons. They are
making problems because they must have been afraid. Whatever happens, we
will be top of this group." Turkey
coach Can Cobanoglu said, "They can't
stomach the fact that Turkey is top seed. They
will see the quality and development of our football. Turkey has the points and
place it deserves. This is not something obtained with the help of others. They
will learn to respect that."
Association executive director David Davies, who represented England at the
session with senior coach Tord Grip and administration manager Michelle Farrer,
an agreement was always going to be difficult. Every country has
priorities and regretfully we could not achieve our aim. Drawing lots is
not ideal, but is fair to all countries."
conducted a random draw on 28 March. It produced precisely the
fixture arrangement Turkey wanted. The last match of the qualifying
campaign will see England visit Turkey. Said Davies in an effort to save
face: "We're happy.
In a way it has turned out there is a major plus for us as we have avoided
playing away games in the heat of the summer in Macedonia and Slovakia as well
as Turkey. That was always one of our aims. As for that last game, who
knows how the group will look at that stage? It is by no means certain that it
will be a group decider."
This was dissembling, for the other
teams, including Turkey, had always been willing to allow England to avoid away
games in the heat of summer, and it had, of course, always been uncertain that the
last match in Turkey would decide the group. The Football Association's
obstinacy--its refusal to recognise that Turkey's status as the group's No. 1
seed warranted any concession in fixture arrangements--had gained it nothing but
bitterness and enmity.
fixtures fiasco was not the end of the bad news for England. At
World Cup 2002, Turkey demonstrated just how much they had improved, falling to
eventual champions Brazil by a single goal in the semifinals and beating
co-hosts South Korea in the third-place match. Their performances in the
Far East gave ample notice they will be at least as difficult an opponent for
England as any of the other first seeds in the draw would have been.
UEFA's Executive Committee awarded the
European Championship 2004 final tournament to Portugal at its meeting in
Aachen, Germany on 12 October 1999. Spain and Austria/Hungary also
submitted hosting bids. As host nation, Portugal qualifies
automatically for the final tournament and will not take part in the
preliminary or qualifying competition.
UEFA's 50 other member nations were divided into 10 groups of five teams for the qualification stage
of the competition at the preliminary draw in Oporto, Portugal on 25 January
2001. The winners of the 10 groups will qualify for the final tournament
along with host Portugal. The remaining five spots will be filled through
home and away playoff matches between the 10 teams finishing second in group
UEFA announced on 23 November
that the teams would be seeded for the draw on the basis of UEFA's European national team
ranking table, which assigned each team a coefficient calculated from results in
the qualifying competitions for European Championship 2000 and World Cup 2002.
Since Belgium and Holland, as the host
nations, did not participate in qualifying for European Championship 2000,
their ranking coefficient was calculated only on the basis of qualifying results for
World Cup 2002. And, since France, as the reigning World Cup champions,
did not take part in qualifying for World Cup 2002, their ranking coefficient
was calculated only on the basis of qualifying results for European Championship
Because Portugal, ranked 4th, qualify
automatically as host and were not included in the seed list, and because
France, ranked 11th, were designated the No. 1 seed as reigning European
champions, the seeding order differed slightly from the ranking. The
three teams above Portugal in the ranking were seeded one place lower than
their rank (Sweden, Spain and the Czech Republic), the six teams below Portugal
but above France in the ranking (Germany, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Italy,
Belgium and Turkey) were seeded in the same position as their rank, and
the 40 teams below France in the ranking were seeded one place higher than
England, 18th in the ranking, were seeded
17th. That put them well outside the 10 top seeded teams and in the second
tier of seeds.
On 23 January 2002, two days before the draw,
UEFA approved the draw procedure. The 50 teams were assigned to five pots
of 10 teams each according to their seeding, the top 10 seeds going into Pot A,
the next 10 seeds going into Pot B and so on. The pots and their teams
along with their seeding number were:
Pot A: 1. France; 2. Sweden; 3. Spain;
4. Czech Republic; 5. Germany; 6. Republic of Ireland; 7. Romania; 8. Italy; 9.
Belgium; 10. Turkey.
Pot B: 11. Russia; 12. Croatia; 13.
Denmark; 14. Holland; 15. Yugoslavia; 16. Poland; 17. England; 18. Slovenia; 19.
Ukraine; 20. Scotland.
Pot C: 21. Austria; 22. Norway; 23.
Slovakia; 24. Israel; 25. Switzerland; 26. Iceland; 27. Bulgaria; 28. Finland;
29. Greece; 30. Hungary.
Pot D: 31. Cyprus; 32.
Bosnia-Herzegovina; 33. Belarus; 34. Wales; 35. Estonia; 36. Latvia; 37.
Northern Ireland; 38. Georgia; 39. FYR Macedonia; 40. Lithuania.
Pot E: 41. Armenia; 42. Moldova; 43.
Albania; 44. Faroe Islands; 45. Azerbaijan; 46. Liechtenstein; 47. San Marino;
48. Malta; 49. Luxembourg; 50. Andorra.
pot E and ending with pot A, the teams were divided into qualifying Groups 1 to
10 in the order in which they were drawn.
Below are the 10 groups the draw produced. The numbers after each group
represent the total of the seeding positions of the teams in the group and, in
brackets, the average seeding position of the teams in the group. The
lower the numbers, the stronger the group. The numbers after each team
represent the total of the seeding positions of the other teams in the group
and, in brackets, the average seeding position of the other teams in the
group. The lower the numbers, the stronger the competition the team faces.
Championship 2004 Preliminary Groups
|1. France 121
||7. Romania 116
||4. Czech Republic 110
||2. Sweden 129
||5. Germany 130
|18. Slovenia 104
||13. Denmark 110
||14. Netherlands 100
||16. Poland 115
||20. Scotland 115
|24. Israel 98
||22. Norway 101
||21. Austria 93
||30. Hungary 101
||26. Iceland 109
|31. Cyprus 98
||32. Bosnia-Herzegovina 91
||33. Belarus 81
||36. Latvia 95
||40. Lithuania 95
|48. Malta 74
||49. Luxembourg 74
||42. Moldova 72
||47. San Marino 84
||44. Faroe Islands 91
|3. Spain 126
||10. Turkey 125
||9. Belgium 124
||8. Italy 122
||6. Rep. Ireland
|19. Ukraine 110
||17. England 118
||12. Croatia 121
||11. Russia 112
|29. Greece 100
||23. Slovakia 112
||27. Bulgaria 106
||28. Finland 102
||39. FYR Macedonia
||35. Estonia 98
||34. Wales 96
||38. Georgia 85
|41. Armenia 88
||50. Andorra 83
||45. Azerbaijan 85
||43. Albania 80
The groups are remarkably well balanced in terms of their
cumulative and average seeding positions. Group 3 has the strongest
cumulative and average seeding, followed by Group 1 and, with the same totals,
Groups 2 and 10. Groups 5 and 7 have the weakest cumulative and average
seeding, followed by Group 8 and Group 4. Groups 6 and 9 are in the
middle. The numerical differences between the groups are so small,
however, that they are probably meaningless, which is the best indication that
the draw produced a fair distribution of the teams. Much more likely to be
significant is the presence or absence in the group of one of the giants of
Germany has the weakest cumulative opposition, followed
closely by Sweden and Spain. Moldova has the toughest cumulative
opposition, followed closely by Malta and Luxembourg. Again, the
differences in the cumulative and average seeding positions of the opposition
faced by teams from the same seeding bracket are so small that they are probably
meaningless, which, again, is indication that the draw was fair.
UEFA's seedings are based on results reached in
competitions in which the groups were of fairly equivalent strength. The
one exception is France, given a boost to No. 1 from No. 11 because they were the
reigning European champion, but since France were also reigning World Cup
champions, one could hardly quarrel with that.
UEFA reserved 12 dates for the
qualifying matches in accordance with the international match calendar:
7/8 September 2002, 12/13 October 2002, 15/16 October 2002, 29/30 March 2003,
1/2 April 2003, 7/8 June 2003, 10/11 June 2003, 6/7 September 2003, 9/10
September 2003, 11/12 October 2003 for the preliminary matches and 15/16
November 2003 and 18/19 November 2003 for the playoff matches.
Match summaries and reports
for the preliminary competition may be found on the official UEFA
Euro 2004 website.