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The Remarkable Stat Which Suggests The 3rd Place Playoff Is A Poisoned Chalice

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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Europe has enjoyed a stranglehold in third placed playoffs in the World Cup since 1982. Seven times in a row, every third placed team has been European.

However, the incredible stat comes to us via Gabrielle Marcotti that, for five of the last seven tournaments, the third placed team has failed to qualify for the subsequent European championships.

The only exceptions were the two times the Germans finished third, in 2006 and 2010.

Holland in 2014, Turkey in 2002, Croatia in 1998, Sweden in 1994, Italy in 1990, France in 1986 and Poland in 1982 failed to reach the subsequent European championships.


Ireland bear some responsibility for Croatia's failure to reach Euro 2000, even if we didn't succeed in getting there ourselves.

Prior to Euro 96, there were only eight teams in the European championships, so all prior failures should be put in context.

Italy were beaten by the Soviet Union in the Euro 92 qualification campaign. The Soviet Union subsequently collapsed on Christmas Day 1991 and the players competed in the championships under the umbrella of the Commonwealth of Independent States, an entity that competed at Euro 92 and the Barcelona Olympics but subsequently folded.


Meanwhile, France's failure to reach Euro 92 kick-started a period of deep frustration for the national team.

Fourth placed teams in the same period, while not always European, have a better record, with France coming back to win Euro 84. Only Belgium (1986) failed to reach the subsequent Euros (1988).

Read more: The Most Embarrassing Qualification Failures Ever Seen




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