Twenty four teams are competing at Euro 2020. The top two teams from six groups qualify for the second round. Four of the six third best teams also go through to make an appropriately divisible 16. A lot of assumptions have been made about four points being enough to qualify from a group… not necessarily!
It is possible for all four teams in a group to finish on four points. Ireland’s group at USA ‘94 for example. The team at the bottom (Whether via goal difference, head to head or any other means) go home.
It’s also possible that four teams finish with 9, 6, 3, and 0 points. If three groups finished with all teams tied on four points and three groups 9, 6, 3 and 0, then one of the teams with three points would qualify for the knockout stages at the expense of three teams that totalled four points!
It’s also possible that every group can finish with three teams on six points and one with zero. Therefore two teams would not make it out of the group despite earning six points! Another possible points combination is 9, 3, 3 and 3, which even in a 16 or 32-team tournament, would see a team qualify by finishing second in a group with three points, possibly at the expense of a team/teams that achieved six points in other groups!
Teams can also qualify with… just two points! There are at least a couple of different final points tallies that result in a team finishing third with only two points on the board. Of course if all the groups do so, then teams will be going through having registered only two points. If, as mentioned before, three groups had all four teams on four points, then a team with two points would usurp three teams that had attained four points!
There are probably many other permutations. Heck, who knows? Maybe a team can even qualify with one point… but even I haven’t the time or effort to check that!
Edit: I’ve since done a quick check and it is possible to qualify with one point! Using the example of all teams in a group finishing with four points, if three groups finished like that and three groups had the third placed team total one point, one team would qualify as a best third placed team with just one point whilst bottom placed teams that achieved four points would… go home!