The tournament was a knockout competition; 29 teams entered (Greece withdrew after being drawn against Albania). The Soviet Union, Austria and Luxembourg received byes to the quarter-finals. The teams played home-and-away matches until the semi-finals; the final four teams would move on to the final tournament, whose host was selected after the teams became known.
Luxembourg proved to be the giant-killers of the qualifying rounds; they beat the Netherlands 3–2 on aggregate (1–1 and 2–1), and then drew with Denmark 3–3 and 2–2, before losing the replay 1–0. Denmark thus became the most surprising of the qualifiers for the final tournament, joining the Soviet Union, Spain, and Hungary.
In the semi-finals, the Soviet Union defeated the Danes 3–0 in Barcelona and Spain beat Hungary 2–1 in extra time in Madrid, the winning goal being scored by Amancio.
Spain had been disqualified for refusing to travel to Moscow in 1960 to play the Soviet Union, but on this occasion, General Franco let his team play the Soviets. In front of more than 79,000 people, including Franco himself, at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, the hosts won 2–1 after a late goal from Marcelino.
1964 European Nations' Cup Intro articles: 6
6 Marcelino Martínez
Marcelino Martínez Cao, known simply as Marcelino, is a Spanish retired footballer who played as a striker.More
1964 European Nations' Cup Qualification articles: 23
6 Chus Pereda
Jesús María Pereda Ruiz de Temiño, also known as Chus Pereda, was a Spanish football midfielder and manager.More
7 Ferenc Bene
Ferenc Bene was a Hungarian football player of Újpesti Dózsa, who was a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. A striker, he was the top scorer of the tournament.More
8 Arthur Blavier
Antoine "Arthur" Blavier was a Belgian football referee.More