Getting to a major tournament is a highly sought-after accomplishment, but the reality is that with only 24 places available at the European Championships, some teams will inevitably get left behind. The tournament used to be a much more exclusive club, with Euro 2016 the first edition where the number of teams was increased from 16 to 24.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of nations who will be watching on with jealousy as the 24 qualified teams walk out for their respective matches, from the lower-ranked minnows to the tournament favourites in the Euro 2020 odds.
Let’s take a look at a few of the highest ranked teams who missed out on qualification for Euro 2020, and figure out where it all went wrong.
The highest team in the FIFA World Rankings to have failed to qualify for this summer’s European Championships is Serbia. Despite having played at three of the last four World Cups, Serbia have not qualified for a European Championships since their former days as Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro, and once again qualification passed them by for Euro 2020.
Having finished third in their group behind Ukraine and Portugal, Serbia were forced into the play-offs, where they succumbed to Scotland in heart-breaking fashion, losing a penalty-shootout to miss out on a place in the tournament finals.
Even with the goals of Erling Braut Håland, Norway could not achieve their goal of reaching a first major tournament finals since Euro 2000. They also finished third in their qualification group, missing out at the hands of Spain and Sweden, and play-off heartache came their way, losing to the aforementioned Serbia in the semi-final of their play-off pathway.
With Håland growing into one of Europe’s most talented strikers, you feel that it is only a matter of time before Norway are back on the international stage.
It’s fair to say that Romania are a bit of a yo-yo side when it comes to qualifying for the European Championships. They have reached the finals in four of the last seven editions of the tournament, but unfortunately for Mirel Rădoi’s side, they missed out on a spot at Euro 2020.
Having been in the same group as Spain, Sweden and Norway, they ultimately finished fourth, before losing to Iceland in the semi-finals of the play-offs.
Republic of Ireland
Mick McCarthy was the man in charge for most of Ireland’s qualification campaign, but by the end it was his successor Stephen Kenny who oversaw the country’s failure to make a third successive European Championship finals. Ireland finished third in their group behind Switzerland and Denmark, with their failure to beat either of the teams above them proving to be their downfall.
Despite a spirited showing against Slovakia in the play-off semi-final, Ireland couldn’t find the breakthrough in Bratislava and lost out on penalties.
Having famously won the European Championships against the odds in 2004, it always feels strange when Greece are not present at the Euros. In fact, they have now failed to qualify for a major tournament since the 2014 World Cup, with the nation’s footballing hopes taking something of a dip lately.
They finished third in their qualification group behind Italy and Finland, and with just missed out on a spot in the play-offs by way of their inferior UEFA Nations League ranking.