The past week has provided us with two excellent matchdays from Euro 2016 qualifying. 4 nations have stamped their ticket to the finals in France officially. Some of the traditional giants are in trouble, while some unexpected stars have arisen. We covered 3 teams who have a chance at Cinderella status, and one of those happened to clinch their Euro 2016 ticket over the past week. Let’s check in on the groups.
Iceland and the Czech Republic have secured their automatic qualification. Latvia and Kazakhstan are both officially eliminated. Turkey and the Netherlands are in a fight for 3rd in the group. Turkey have 12 points to the Netherlands 10. Turkey’s remaining games are against the two qualified teams, while the Netherlands play the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan. The Dutch lost Arjen Robben to an injury, which should definitely hurt their chances. This group is mostly settled, but will likely have final day drama to keep it interesting.
Wales and Belgium have secured at least 3rd place, but not automatic qualification. There is a bit more mystery to this group, as only Andorra have been eliminated. Cyprus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Israel are all in contention for 3rd place in the group. Israel are currently in the magic spot, but have a tough remaining games against Belgium and 3rd place competitor Cyprus. Bosnia & Herzegovina play Cyprus and Wales. These are some pretty huge games, with Cyprus being the key to 3rd place. Every game remaining is a must-win in this group.
Spain have all but locked up a spot in Euro 2016 with a 1-0 victory over Macedonia. Slovakia and Ukraine tied 0-0 to keep their 3-point differential intact. Spain get 5 points clear of Ukraine with 2 matches to go. Belarus, Luxembourg, and Macedonia have already been eliminated, but still have a part to play in this group. We will see if our Cinderella Slovakia can hold off Ukraine to claim their glass slipper of Euro 2016.
Germany has assured themselves of at least 3rd place in the group, while Georgia and Gibraltar have been eliminated. Scotland can still qualify as a 3rd place team, but cannot reach a top 2 spot. Poland and Ireland are sitting in 2nd and 3rd respectively, pining for that automatic qualification spot. Germany should capture one of the spots, leaving the other three squads to fight for one automatic qualification and one play-off spot.
England were one of the first to stamp their ticket to Euro 2016, absolutely dominating this group from beginning to finish. Their victory over Switzerland did leave the door open for a few other nations to make some noise. Only San Marino have been eliminated, while Lithuania can only reach 3rd in the group. Switzerland are currently in 2nd with 15 points. Slovenia are in 3rd with 12, followed by Estonia with 10 and Lithuania with 9. The middle four squads have multiple head-to-head matchups remaining, giving those results some extra juice. There is still lots of variability that can happen with this group.
This might be the weakest group, and one of their giants has already been eliminated. Greece is bottom of the group, while the Faroe Islands have also been eliminated. Greece’s football team has fallen harder than their economy, seeing as they have 3 points less than the Faroe Islands. Northern Ireland have secured at least 3rd place in the group. The remaining three sides — Romania, Hungary, and Finland — are all battling for one of the other 2 remaining Top 3 slots. There is lot of fluctuation that can happen in this group, leaving us with excitement that will come down to the final match day.
Austria are through to France! The Austrians have taken complete control of this group, leaving all the remaining teams in the dust. The Russians did rebound from firing their manager to wollop Liechtenstein 7-0, and catapult them to 2nd place with 14 points. Sweden sit in 3rd with 12, while Montenegro are just behind with 11. Liechtenstein and Moldova have been eliminated. The three nations competing for 2 spots will be intensely watching the scoreboards during the final two match days.
This group is mostly settled, but still has a bit of drama left to play out. Italy, Norway, and Croatia are confirmed to be the top 3 in the group. Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, and Malta have all been eliminated. The only thing left to settle is which squad will be stuck in the 3rd place playoff position. Italy have 18 points, while Norway have 16, and Croatia have 15. Italy does play Norway on the final match day, which might leave an opening for Croatia to gain some points. Very close at the top, meaning this group will be really fun to watch all the way to the final minute.
Ah, the politically volatile group. After their dust-up with Albania, Serbia have officially been eliminated from qualifying, along with Armenia. Albania, Denmark, and Portugal all are secured in top 3 slots, although no one has secured automatic slots yet. Portugal look pretty safe at the top, with a 3 point lead and 2 matches to play. Since this group only had 5 teams, they have an uneven schedule. Portugal, Albania, and Serbia have 2 matches to play, with Armenia and Denmark only having 1 remaining. Denmark’s one match is against Portugal, which bodes well for Albania. Unfortunately, Albania will have to play Serbia again, after the first match was abandoned. There will certainly be fireworks in this group, not only on the field though.
So we have 5 of the 24 nations officially in for Euro 2016 including the hosts France. Which 19 other nations will join them for the European Championship next summer? Only time will tell.
Recent posts in International Soccer