If you’re wondering how teams qualify for the UEFA European Championships, you’ve come to the right place.

Here at Ladbrokes, we know that the whole business of Euro qualification can be a little complex, especially if you’re just getting into football. With this in mind, we break it all down for you here in our Euro 16 guide.

When does qualification start?

The Euro qualification stage starts in the autumn after the preceding World Cup. This is almost two years before the start of the main tournament.

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Who is eligible to qualify for the Euros?

The national team of every UEFA member may qualify for the Euros. As of 2016, there are 54 member nations. The host nation doesn’t need to qualify, meaning that 53 teams each vie for one of 23 remaining places in the tournament.

How is qualification decided?

Teams are split into nine groups, labelled A-I. Eight of these groups include six teams and one group includes five teams.

The teams in each group play each other twice (home and away). Three points are given for each win, one point for each draw and no points for a loss.

After all matches have been played, the two teams with the most points from each group and the best performing third-placed team qualify for the main tournament.

The eight remaining third-placed teams take part in single play-off matches. This decides which teams gain the four remaining places in the finals.

How is this qualifying group draw decided?

Before the qualification matches take place, the draw for the Euro qualifiers is decided by a ranking system. The seeded team pot includes the reigning champions and the hosts by default.

The other seeded teams achieve this status based on their performances in the previous World Cup and Euro qualifying rounds.

The purpose of seeding is to ensure that seeded teams are not drawn against other high-ranked teams in the qualifying stage.

Ranking is calculated by dividing the total number of points a team has won by the number of games they have played in the two previous tournament qualifiers.

In the case of a team having hosted either the previous World Cup or Euros (thus qualifying by default), only the results from the most recent qualifiers in which they took part are used to decide their ranking.

Upcoming changes

In a landmark change to normal procedure, there will be no host nation and no automatic qualification for Euro 2020. Qualification for the 2020 tournament will take place in a newly-created UEFA Nations League, in which there will be ten groups.

So there you have it – the Euro qualifiers in a nutshell. While Euro 2016 will be the last tournament to feature the current qualifying format, 2020’s tournament celebrates 60 years of the competition, with games being held within 12 countries for the first time in history.

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