The Qualifying draw for Euro 2020 has been completed with England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland all discovering their fates.
With Germany, Denmark and Russia amongst those in Pot 2, this draw had the potential to throw up some tough groups so who could be looking forward to a continental European tour in Summer 2020?
Failure to win this group would be embarrassing for England because none of the other teams pose any real threats.
Montenegro probably are the closest danger because three of their four meetings have ended in draws. That shouldn’t however stop the Three Lions from topping this group comfortably.
The runner up spot realistically should be Montenegro vs Czech Republic because I cannot see the other three managing to produce any real challenge. In end, I can see Czech Republic winning on goal difference but will be tight.
Prediction: England and Czech Republic to qualify.
This should be an interesting group with Portugal, Ukraine and Serbia all capable of finishing top two.
Lithuania and Luxembourg should be an easy 12 points for those three teams so it really will come down to how they perform against each other, especially at home.
Portugal are defending Euro champions so failing to qualify here would be shambolic, although they do have a play-off spot confirmed as a group winner in Nations League, just in case they fail to finish in top two.
I therefore can see them perhaps taking that play-off spot, if qualification still in balance come final group game and its against Serbia or Ukraine and the play-off picture looks decent enough to justify going down that route.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if they top the group with Serbia taking second given that they are a stronger team than Ukraine.
Prediction: Portugal and Serbia to qualify.
On paper, I think this group is pretty much done and dusted already as Estonia and Belarus won’t trouble Netherlands, Germany and Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland however lack the quality needed to trouble Netherlands and Germany so can see just one outcome here.
Prediction: Netherlands and Germany to qualify.
|Republic of Ireland||Georgia|
We can definitely rule out Georgia and Gibraltar of qualifying given their inferiority but it could be close between Switzerland, Denmark and Republic of Ireland.
Ireland have decent records against both teams and drew both meetings with Denmark in their Nations League B group so are right in the mix. Add in the arrival of Mick McCarthy as manager then I can see The Green Army perhaps challenging for a qualification spot if can adapt to his style.
Ultimately, their away performances will be key and if show considerable progress then they should just sneak a spot at the Euros alongside Denmark who are a solid side and perhaps the Danes’ best ever.
Prediction: Denmark and Republic of Ireland to qualify.
Croatia should breeze their way through this group but second place will probably be between Wales, Slovakia and Hungary.
As semi-finalists in 2016 tournament, Wales should be favourites but Slovakia and Hungary are dangerous teams as they proved in that tournament. The Welsh however have the better record over both teams so am going for a Croatia and Wales top two.
Prediction: Croatia and Wales to qualify.
Like Croatia in Group E, Spain should comfortably qualify whilst Sweden and Norway fight over second.
Whilst Norway are a solid team led by Joshua King, the Swedes are difficult to beat all over the pitch which makes me believe that they will join Spain at the Euros.
The others have no chance in all honesty so should be easily dispatched when face the three bigger teams.
Prediction: Spain and Sweden to qualify.
Poland should easily escape this group but Austria face a tough test from Slovenia as I cannot see Israel doing much despite nearly winning their Nations League group.
Austria and Slovenia have met twice before with both winning once, which makes this a tricky one to call but am going for Slovenia because they have the better experience of battling for a qualifying spot when it matters.
Prediction: Poland and Slovenia to qualify.
France should top this group with Iceland joining them after a close battle with Turkey.
Turkey are always a difficult side but this is a golden Icelandic generation so can see them proving just too strong for the Turks.
Albania, Moldova and Andorra definitely aren’t going to offer much in way of a shock qualification challenge, so will be scrapping amongst themselves to not finish last.
Prediction: France and Iceland to qualify.
For me, Belgium will qualify comfortably as group winners given their quality, leaving Russia to battle Scotland for runner up spot.
In two previous meetings, Russia have held Scotland so if one side can sneak a point against Belgium, it could very well be pivotal although the Tartan Army are vulnerable away from home as proven in past few seasons.
Should the Scots go unbeaten at home and can get a point against Belgium or Russia, then I can imagine them going through but if don’t then it will be Belgium and Russia who qualify.
The rest have no chance of posing any potential shocks so will be battling amongst themselves for the wooden spoon.
Prediction: Belgium and Russia to qualify.
|Italy||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
There will only be one simple outcome here because Italy will qualify alongside Bosnia and Herzegovina.
2004 winners, Greece might pose a slight threat to Bosnia but lack the quality needed to mount a proper duel for a qualification spot. Bosnia therefore face a tough battle to top this group ahead of Italy.
Both teams have met just once before, back in November 1996 in a friendly so we should expect a good test of where both teams are at, as Italy rebuild after a disastrous World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Ultimately Italy’s strong collection of quality players like Gianluigi Donnarumma, Jorginho and Ciro Immobile will see them through as group winners for my liking.
Prediction: Italy and Bosnia and Herzegovina to qualify.