Your Final Euro 2016 Qualifiers Guide

Croatia v. Italy Euro qualifier 2016

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It’s clutch time. Do or die time. Win or go home time. The final 2 matchdays for Euro 2016 qualifying will occur over the next week. A few groups have been all but settled, while others are still wide open. 17 nations are already officially eliminated, but that doesn’t mean they can’t spoil someone else’s party. Let’s take a look at some of the more tantalizing groups and games.

The story of Group A has been the Dutch failings. Currently out of an advancing spot, they trail Turkey by 2 points, and desperately need to win both of their games to even have a chance. Israel and Bosnia & Herzegovina are likely battling for the 3rd spot in group B, although it is still mathematically possible for Israel to catch Belgium for the 2nd automatic qualification spot.

Groups C and D are pretty low on entertainment value. Most of the teams holding comfortable margins, only needing a single point to solidify their positions. Group E is in a similar position, but not completely out of the woods. England are guaranteed, but Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, and even Lithuania are still in contention to move on. None of these teams can afford a slip up, as it could spell doom for their chances.

The weakest qualifying group hasn’t been settled one bit. Group F will be high on drama, but relatively low on star power. Northern Ireland are assured of at least 3rd place, while Greece and the Faroe islands have been eliminated. Greece were supposed to be the heavyweight of the group, but have gone winless through qualifying. Along with Northern Ireland, Romania, Hungary, and Finland will be battling it out for the 3 advancing spots. Northern Ireland hold the group lead with 17 points, while Romania remain a single point behind. Hungary are 3 points behind Romania, while Finland are 3 points behind Hungary. Finland might be the key to the group, as their final 2 remaining games are against Northern Ireland and Romania. If they can pull off 2 wins, the group will be in utter chaos.

Sweden's Zlatan in Euro qualifiers

Group G is very similar to Group E. Austria have already secured automatic qualification but the other spots are up for grabs. Russia currently lead Sweden and Montenegro by 2 and 3 points, respectively. Sweden have a bit of luck on their side, with their 2 remaining matches being against eliminated minnows, Liechtenstein and Moldova. A direct matchup between Russia and Montenegro on the final match day will be an absolute thriller, as Sweden will take on Moldova at the same time.

Group H has a clear top 3, bottom 3 vibe. Bulgaria, still mathematically possible to qualify, is all but eliminated. Italy holds a comfortable 4-point cushion for an automatic spot, while Norway have a 2-point lead over Croatia. All the more crazy, Croatia had a point deducted after racist fan behavior, while also having to play remaining home qualifiers behind closed doors. This group should have some fun final day magic, with Italy and Norway matching up on the final day, perhaps giving Croatia a chance to sneak into an automatic qualification spot.

Finally, we have Group I, the politically charged group. This group has seen a whirlwind of play on the field, and off it as well in the courts. Portugal, Denmark, and Albania are fighting for seeding, while Armenia and Serbia (including their deductions) have been eliminated. Even so, there is only a 4-point gap between Portugal and Albania, leaving the door open for both of the automatic qualifying spots. Denmark will play their final group match Portugal, desperately needing points. Albania will play Serbia in a return match, sure to set off fireworks.

We should not forget that one lucky 3rd place team will automatically qualify, getting to bypass the playoff that will be played by the rest of their 3rd place counterparts. If qualifying ended right now, Ukraine out of Group C would get the nod, although that is hugely up in the air. Since one group only has 5 teams, all the matches played against the lowest ranking team in the other groups will not count in the 3rd place rankings. This is a huge shakeup, because the bottom teams have not been set in many groups.

The next couple of days will see dreams shattered, and joyous celebration. With 19 spots still up for grabs, this will be an exciting finish.

 

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About the author: Dominic Habjan

 

I am a contributor to SoccerPro’s blogs, and truly enjoy writing about the World’s Game. I support Sporting KC, US National Team, and Slovenian National Team. I follow the Premier League but don’t necessarily have a favorite club. I am an avid sports fan, but prefer college to professional leagues in every sport with exception to soccer. I love the Mizzou Tigers, KC Royals, and KC Chiefs. Outside sports I enjoy movies, music, and musical theatre.

Website: https://www.soccerpro.com

 

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