Euro Qualifiers: What’s Left to Play For

With the final group games taking place over the next few days, let’s have a look at which nations have booked their place in the Euro 2020 Finals, and which are yet hoping to get there, either via the groups or the playoffs (another money making scheme for football that will take place at a later date).

Group A

This group is all done, with England and the Czech Republic advancing. The only thing left to play for is to determine whether or not Bulgaria or Montenegro will end up finishing at the foot of the group. Having said that, because of their successful Nation’s League performances, Kosovo and Bulgaria will be going into a 16-team playoff system with aspirations of qualifying “through the back door” so to speak.

GroupB

Unbeaten Ukraine (six wins, and a draw) have cruised through what could have been a tough group, leaving both reigning champions Portugal, and Serbia behind. It is these two nations that will determine who advances in second place. Portugal will take a one-point advantage to Luxembourg – enough said. If Portugal were to lose, then Serbia would have to beat Ukraine to progress (Portugal hold the head-to-head advantage over Serbia), as a draw will put the two on equal points, giving Cristiano Ronaldo yet another chance to add a trophy to his illustrious career. Playoffs await the nation that doesn’t qualify automatically.

Group C

This group is done! Germany, as per usual, and The Netherlands, who have missed out on the last two major tournaments (Euro 2016 and 2018 World Cup) have made it through. Northern Ireland and Belarus will compete in the playoffs, while it’s the same old story for lacklustre Estonia.

Group D

The first of the interesting groups consists of Denmark (15pts), Switzerland (14), and Republic of Ireland (12). They will play-out an exciting finale. Denmark will head to Dublin, where a typically raucous crowd will be waiting for sure. Switzerland will be playing a Gibraltar side with no points and a goal difference that makes you question if they have any defenders in the squad at all. So, we can count on them getting to seventeen points. The other game will not be so easy to predict. The teams played out a 1-1 draw in Copenhagen, which makes the game even more exciting knowing that the Irish will progress with a win. Nothing else will do!

Once again, the nation that loses out from the three mentioned will end up in the playoffs along with Georgia, who have strolled to a 4th place finish.

Group E

Croatia, as expected, have won the group. Not so convincingly this time, which may be signs of their “golden generation” nearing the end. That leaves us with a second automatic slot, and three nations competing for it. Don’t worry, the two nations that don’t make it will…yep, you guessed it… make the playoffs. The three countries are Hungary (12pts), Wales (11) and Slovakia (10). The big game will see Wales play host to Hungary with both likely to need a win. Victory will guarantee progression to the finals. However, a draw will see Slovakia leapfrog both, if they can beat a dogged Azerbaijan side who have lost each one of their three away games by a single goal.

* Spoiler alert: The remaining groups have nothing to play for.

Group F

Spain and Sweden have made it through. Romania and Norway will be in the playoffs. Malta and Faroe Islands are just chillin’.

Group G

Poland and Austria have qualified yet again, leaving behind Israel and North Macedonia to try and progress through the playoffs.

Group H

It is fantastic to see Turkey in the finals of a major tournament, and they have made it look relatively comfortable for a change. The losing finalists from the last tournament, France are there again. Iceland will likely be one of the favourites to make it to the finals via the playoff route.

Group I

The first of two nations to still hold a 100% record going into the final games, Belgium have scored 34 goals, and only conceded two. They will undoubtedly be one of the favourites next summer. Russia are the second team to make it through, albeit not so impressively. Scotland are guaranteed a playoff berth.

Group J

Italy are the second nation that are yet to drop a point. The funny thing is that none of those victories were 1-0, which is what many people tend to associate with the Azurri. Guess the end-to-end domestic game has spilled to the national side. Joining Italy, and making their first ever appearance in the finals of an international competition, will be Finland (not a typo). The Finnish side have shocked many with the progression they have shown from what was an average side no more than four years ago. Bosnia and Herzegovina have made the playoffs.

There you have it. Not really much to see thanks to the safety net of the playoffs.

The same luxury won’t be available when the competition proper kicks off on June 12th, at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome. Unless UEFA decides they haven’t made enough money and implement a playoff for the finals, too. Wouldn’t put anything past them…

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