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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

EURO 2016: Expansion to 24 teams 'not ideal'

An old article pointed out by Lusankya. Will post the most important part just in case it disappears from The Independent.

Gianni Infantino, UEFA's general secretary, admitted the final tournament was "not ideal" and that some teams who finish in third place in the four-team groups will go through to the round of 16 knock-out stage.

Organisers also want to avoid teams being able to collude in a match so that both qualify at the expense of another team in the group.

Infantino said UEFA would also review the Euro 2016 qualification competition to ensure that it was not "boring".

About me:

Christian, husband, father x 3, programmer, Romanian. Started the blog in March 2007. Quit in April 2018. You can find me on LinkedIn.


  1. The only "true" way of doing it would be 8 groups of 3 with only the winner advancing to an 8 team KO stage like the one we have now. That would spice up the groups with only the winner advancing and prevent teams conspiring with each other. However, it would reduce the guaranteed number of games for teams teams to just two, and I don't like that. But it would certainly not be boring. There would be a razor's edge to all the game. One slip at any stage and you're likely out of the competition. A lot of teams would be finished after just one game. A big downside however would be the potential for ties at the top of the group and the infamous coin toss deciding who advances.

    KO stage would be simply A vs B, C vs D, etc.

    1. During the first WorldCup with 24 countries, Spain 1982, they used the system with 6 groups of 4 teams in the first round, with the best 2 advancinf to the second round. In that second round, the 12 remaining teams were divided into 4 groups of 3.

      The schedule of play was flexible. The first game was pre-schudeld, but the second and third game not. Depending of the results in the first match, the losing team played the second match. In case of a draw, the team that played 'home' had to play the second match.

      The 4 group winners advanced to the semi-finals.

      Not ideal, but it could work. Downside with groups of 3 teams - as Lorric explained - is the potential of ties and the risk of needing a supercomputer to decide which is winner of the group.

    2. Ah yes, the 1982 World Cup. A fine performance by England, sweeping their first group with 3 wins, and drawing with the hosting Spaniards and West Germany in the second group. Unfortunately the Germans beat Spain, to send England home. Spain and Germany in the same group, what a nightmare that would and could have been this year, though not for England.

      Well they'd just use the coin toss. CONCACAF used this system, but with 12 teams, for the last U17 and U20 championship, and this has come up already with a tie between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago at the top of one of the groups. Though the top 2 advanced, Jamaica won the coin toss, and managed to beat their lesser quarter fianl opponent, while Trinidad and Tobago lost. Jamaica, by getting to the last 4, got a place in the I think U17 World Cup.

      They could also use penalties if the two teams in question were on the pitch.

  2. I think Platini has already said that the format for the 1986-1994 World Cups will be used. Six groups of four and then top two and the four best third-placed teams advance to the round of the last 16. Personally I would rather see just the top two advance and let the four best group winners have a bye to the quarterfinals.

    Having said that, I think the EURO expansion is a mistake and wish they would stick with the current format.

  3. Another alternative is to have 4 groups of 6 teams, with the 4 group winners going to the semifinals. As with a tourney with 3 group games and 4 knockout games, no team would play more than 7 games. Most importantly it emphasizes the group stage and reduces the possibility of having to use tie-breakers to settle things.

  4. Best format:
    5 groups of 5 teams, group winners qualify straight to the quarter finals, RUs + best 3rd qualify for the PO stage with the 3 winners joining the 5 group winners at the quarter finals.
    That would mean 25 teams qualify of course with a total of 60 matches. The number of days needed would be 25.

    1. I like this. It was used at the rugby world cup in 95.

  5. Damn UEFA for destroying the European Championship.

    Anyway, we can get a look at a potential KO stage last 16 by looking at this year's group stage and going 1st vs 4th 2nd vs 3rd. This is what you get...

    Czech Republic (1A) vs Netherlands (4B)
    Italy (2C) vs Ukraine (3D)


    Spain (1C) vs Sweden (4D)
    Greece (2A) vs Denmark (3B)


    Germany (1B) vs Poland (4A)
    France (2D) vs Croatia (3C)


    England (1D) vs Republic of Ireland (4C)
    Portugal (2B) vs Russia (3A)

    I have to say that does look appealing. A lot of interesting matches. Potential grudge match path for my England. Ireland, then Portugal, then Germany...

    1. Looks promising, but you have to take the group stage into account. If you look at the current UEFA country ranking and take the top 24, you would get the folling line-up:

      Czech Republic
      Republic of Ireland

      You could get uninteresting groups like Netherlands-Greece-Bosnia-Turkey, or more interesting groups like Spain-Portugal-Ukraine-Switzerland

      When choosing a knockout system after the first round, chances are that some games are interesting, some not. But when you choose a system like WK1982, there could be some very interesting groups.

  6. That format suggest 39 games ... with a three host format i.e. Republic of Ireland - Scotland - Wales they could all host 13 games each couldn't they?

    possible groups

    A. Wales, England, Croatia, Slovenia
    B. Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Serbia,
    C. Scotland, Netherlands, Denmark, Bosnia-Herzegovina
    D. Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Norway
    E. Republic of Ireland, France, Hungary, Switzerland
    F. Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Slovakia

    1. My format suggest 51 games: 36 in 1st round, 12 in 2nd round, 2 semi-finals and 1 final. Individual teams play 3 (when eliminated in 1st round), 5 (eliminated in 2nd round), 6 (semi-final losers) or 7 (finalists) games.

      And the format that UEFA probably will choose (e.g. the WC1986-1994 format) also suggests 51 games: 36 in 1st round, 8 2nd round, 4 quarter-finales, 2 semi-finals and 1 final. Individual teams play minimal 3 and maximal 7 games.

  7. Keeping it at 16 would have been wiser, but as this is now set in stone as 24, my preference would be for the 82 rather than the 86-94 world cup format. However, groups of 3 are not ideal either and some of these groups had 2 initial round 1 group winners and others had 2 runners-up instead. There's a certain imbalance in that.

    So, why not make a slight adjustment to that Spain 82 system and also use something that the cricket world cup had a few years back. To explain, I'm using USA 94 as an example, changing the dire situation where some 3rd place teams advance to just the top 2 from each group - so, 12 qualifiers, as in 82:

    Group A: Romania & Switzerland qualify
    Group B: Brazil & Sweden
    Group C: Germany & Spain
    Group D: Nigeria & Bulgaria
    Group E: Mexico & Ireland
    Group F: Netherlands & Saudi Arabia

    The difference between this format and the 82 format would be that there'd be three groups of four, rather than four groups of three. The first "super group" would be made up of the qualifiers from Groups A & B, the second by those from C & D and third by E and F. The key is that each team's first round result against their group's fellow-qualifier would stand in round 2. In other words, Switzerland would start the new group with the 3 points they won from their victory over Romania while Brazil and Sweden would carry their first round draw over.

    So, the second round would start like this:
    Group 1: Switz 3pts, Brazil 1pt, Sweden 1pt, Romania 0pts

    The remaining matches would be:
    Romania v Sweden & Brazil v Switz
    Romania v Brazil & Switz v Sweden

    Group 2 and 3 would work the same way.

    The group winner with the best record would play the best 2nd placed team in one semi and the two other winners would make up the 2nd semi.

    I may have made it sound complex, but it really isn't. I think knock-out games can be cagey and, especially with so many weaker teams and too much gets decided by penalties - 3 out of 4 semis in 86! What you want is a knock-out feel but with permutations from other fixtures acting as a tie-breaker - just like Italy v Brazil in 82. Had that been straight knock-out, Italy would surely have played for 0-0!

    This format prevents teams playing for draws and sneaking through in 3rd. It provides huge incentives for teams to win groups. It ticks the box to allow middle-ranking teams to qualify and is still only 51 (or 52 if they stupidly decide on a third place game!) matches, as is currently proposed. It's much more of a "championship"!

    I'd be grateful to hear some opinions!

    1. I meant 3 out of 4 quater finals in Mexico 86 (not semis!)

    2. I've been over it so many times in my head and thought the current idea is the best if you have to have 24.

      However, maybe you could do something with 3 team groups with your idea for the second stage. Results carrying over would eliminate teams engineering results because they'd need them for the next stage of the competition.

      So you'd have 2 matches at the first stage, whittling the field to 16. Then 2 more matches at the second stage whittling the field to 8. You'd then head to the KO stage, and the most matches teams would play is 7, which is as it is now.

      The only downside is a minimum of 2 matches vs 3 for teams. But I think it's an acceptable price to pay.

    3. I'll use the CONCACAF U20 championship to illustrate what half of the competition would look like:

      Group A: Honduras (6), Guatemala (3)
      Group B: United States (6), Panama (3)
      Group C: Costa Rica (6), Canada (3)
      Group D: Mexico (6), Cuba (1)

      So this is what the next round would look like at the start:

      Group A: Honduras (3pts, +2, GS), United States (3pts, +2), Guatemala (0pts, -2, GS), Panama (0pts, -2)

      Group B: Mexico and Costa Rica (3pts, equal), Cuba and Canada (0pts, equal).

    4. Not too bad either. I think anything which prevents teams qualifying after a 3rd place group finish is worth looking at. Otherwise the first round is bloated - a lot of games to eliminate few teams.

  8. I few"king" hate this idea of a 24-team format for the future Euro tournaments. If you take a group of for example: England, Croatia, Switzerland, and Slovakia (FOR EXAMPLE). England and Croatia finish at the top 2 and go through. Switzerland finish 3rd with 4 points with a (-10) goal difference. In another group, the 3rd place team was Iceland with 3 points and (+4) goal difference. Switzerland go through and Iceland doesn't. Switzerland goes all the way to the Final and play Spain. Switzerland beat Spain. Switzerland wins Euro tournament.

    It's crazy how UEFA decides a 24-team format when it's more ideal with a 16-team format because with the 24 teams. You add 6 more "Republic of Ireland" teams and they get knock-out.
    Afterwards, they nullify Turkey's 2020 Euro bid in expense of a pan-european tournament across 13 cities that is difficult to get flights from game to game of your favorite team. While in Turkey, it's just one place and Turkey is developing very well and have the money to build or update stadiums and their host cities.

    1: Turkey - Sure :)
    2: Scotland/Wales/Ireland - Are they serious?!? They hate each other!
    3: Azerbaijan/Georgia - Do they have quality and stadiums? You don't hear much from them

    ***To be honest, Turkey is the only reasonable bid out of the 3 bids.


    1. UEFA has a serious case of megalomania. But we have to deal with it. To prevent your scenario with Switzerland and Iceland from happening, you can organise the tournament the same way the WorldCup 1982 took place: 24 teams, nrs. 1 and 2 go to the next round which will be 4 groups of 3 teams. The 4 winners of that group stage qualify for the semi-finals.

      I know it's not ideal, but it's better than the "best nrs. 3" rule.

    2. 2: Scotland/Wales/Ireland - Are they serious?!? They hate each other!
      Check out your facts - this is not true at all. The Celtic nations of the British Isles get along very well. They are probably quite united in their dislike of the English if anything!

      But I agree on your other point - a 16-team Euro in 1 or 2 countries was just fine, better than the WC in terms of quality and excitement too. They might as well go the whole way and have 32 teams just to keep the format simple.

  9. Complete 6 groups of 4
    Top 2 progress
    Then the 4 best group toppers qualify for the Quarter Finals
    The 8 remaining teams play-off for the last 4 place in the QFs