EURO 2020 Qualifiers
As we head into the final two games of the Euro 2020 qualifiers it is now make or break for the teams involved over the next 4 days, with all to play for and automatic qualification is still on the cards for most of the teams playing between now and next week. Let’s take a look at the upcoming games and see who is looking likely to secure the top spots in their groups, who will be battling it out in the playoffs, and who are looking likely to miss out on international football next summer.
England – Montenegro (Group A)
England were looking like they were set to qualify automatically with plenty of time after winning their first 4 games convincingly. However, after a slip-up against the Czech Republic in Prague last month, which if they had won would have mean they would already be qualified for the EURO 2020 next summer, it looks like it will come down to the final two games. Fortunately, for fans of the Three Lions, they bounced back convincingly in their next game and stormed home to a 4-0 win against Bulgaria in a game almost abandoned as a result of racism from the Bulgarian fans.
Now if they beat Montenegro tonight at Wembley, in a game they are expected to win, then they could still qualify with a game to spare. If they fail to beat Montenegro though, and the Czechs beat Kosovo, it will come down to the final game. Regardless of what happens though in the next 24 hours, England will be assured at least a chance to participate in the play-offs but would have to show a very bad conclusion to their campaign to not qualify automatically.
Cyprus – Scotland (Group I)
Scotland are now out of the running for automatic qualification and Cyprus already eliminated, with the two teams more than 10 points off Group leaders Belgium and Russia, who have both had convincing campaigns. However, Scotland are already promised a place in the playoff stage for the EURO 2020 due to their success as group winners in the Nations League. This is their saving grace as otherwise at this point as otherwise they, like Cyprus, would have already been eliminated.
This means there is not an awful lot to play for in this match that will take on Saturday. With this considered, a draw looks like the most likely result of this match, but either team could edge it with Cyprus showing the better form over the last 5 games, but in the first match between the two, Scotland came out the better side.
Azerbaijan – Wales (Group E)
It is still all to play for in this group with the teams very evenly split. In theory, Wales could still nick a automatic qualification spot, even if secure just 1 more win and a draw in what is left of the qualification process, which includes a final match against second in the group, Hungary, and would also be dependent on Slovakia not taking anything from either of their final games.
With this considered, a win against bottom of the group Azerbaijan is pretty imperative, but they are in pretty good stead to be so with Azerbaijan not winning a single game so far in the campaign. Azerbaijan won’t want to lose either though as they still in a running for a playoff spot. With this considered, if Azerbaijan takes something away from Saturday’s encounter, Wales may have to settle with play-offs also.
Nr. Ireland – Netherlands (Group C)
Another team with it all to play for is Northern Ireland, they are just three points any from the two group leaders, The Netherlands and Germany, but have to face these two teams in their final two games. To say they are going to have their work cut-out is an understatement, as they are going to have to avoid losing in both and secure at least one win, as they are also far behind both teams goal difference stats. However, Nations League winners The Netherlands have only lost once so far in this campaign and aren’t likely to slip up at the last hurdle, plus they also beat Northern Ireland the first time around in Amsterdam. With this considered, if Northern Ireland don’t make use of their home advantage ahead of playing away in Germany, then they will almost definitely have to settle for the play-offs.
Kosovo – England (Group A)
Permitting England at least a draw against Montenegro tonight, the result of this game would mean nothing to England. If not though, they will have their work cut against Kosovo, who showed they were no push-overs in their first match-up, putting 3 past the three lions. Theoretically, Kosovo could even leap-frog England, if they win both their final two games and England lost both. What Kosovo have to play for though will be dependent on their result tonight against the Czech’s, if they lose this then whatever happens in this match will be irrelevant and Kosovo will be battling it out in the play-offs.
Ireland – Denmark (Group D)
Ireland still remain top of the group, despite a disappointing loss to Switzerland last month and, as it stands, are in an automatic qualification place. However, this could easily change as Switzerland are hot on their heels with a game in hand and just 2 points behind them. Not to mention playing Switzerland playing their final two games against the two weakest teams in the groups.
Ireland have Denmark in their final game but the Danes are likely to win tomorrow against Gibraltar, who have yet to win a game. This would mean that all the Danes need would be a draw against Ireland. As such, the fate of Ireland is currently out of their hands, with these final game against Denmark currently looking like a must-win match-up and even then, will likely end up in the play-offs on goal difference.
Wales – Hungary (Group E) – EURO 2020 top tier game
This could likely decide who takes the final spot for automatic qualification in Group E. If Wales secure a win against Azerbaijan, they will be just one point behind Hungary and so whoever wins will be in the best position for the final automatic qualification process, with Wales able to qualify for the EURO 2020 with a draw only. This said, neither of these teams are safe as if Slovakia also take a draw and win in their final two games they will take secure a qualification spot. If Slovakia loses either though, they will be out of the running. As such, this will be one of the most competitive matches in the picks this week. Last time the two teams met, Hungary secured a 1-0 victory, but this will be a tougher fought battle. Again this will be a situation resolved based on the results of other fixtures too but on the night, a draw is likely to unfold.
Scotland – Kazakhstan (Group I)
Scotland are already through to qualification and Kazakhstan are already out so there is not much to play for here. However, Scotland lost to the underdogs by a 3-0 margin in the last match and so the team will be looking to remedy this embarrassment in this final match-up, even though both teams fates are already decided regardless of whatever happens in between their match-up on Tuesday.
Germany – Nr. Ireland (Group C)
By this point Germany are likely to have already secured automatic qualification if they beat Belarus on Saturday, as they are expected to do. While Northern Ireland, who, if they fail to beat the Netherlands on Tuesday, will need to secure a win. If they have won against the Netherlands though, they will still need a draw here too and would be relying on the Netherlands to lose against Estonia. Neither are very likely and Germany are going to definitely be the favourites at home to beat Northern Ireland regardless of what happens elsewhere. While it is not over until the fat lady sings, she is definitely clearing her voice for Northern Ireland!
Make sure you catch all football on TV over the next couple of days to see who will be seeing next Summer at Euro 2020 and who will be in the playoffs in the coming months.