Euro 2020 is now just six months away as defending champions, Portugal plus other top teams in France, Belgium and England look to discover who they will face in the Group Stage.
Netherlands, Italy and Germany meanwhile look to mount a resurgence so here is who will be facing who in each group, plus predictions on which two will definitely progress to the knockout stages.
This is an interesting group because all four teams could realistically progress in my opinion, although Italy should definitely progress because of not only their home advantage but their improved squad.
The second qualifying spot meanwhile will depend on who performs best in the games between Wales, Turkey and Switzerland.
Wales however possess top players in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey whilst youngsters like David Brooks could be real surprises, which might well give them the edge in this group.
Prediction: Italy and Wales to qualify.
Belgium will be delighted with this group because I can’t see any of Denmark, Russia or Finland troubling them en route to qualification in top spot.
Finland meanwhile don’t look like they could mount a challenge for a qualification spot because they’re unknowns aside from Teemu Pukki, so I can see the clash between Denmark and Russia settling who goes through.
That team for me has to be Russia because they’re playing some of their best football in recent years, particularly off the back of a successful home World Cup last season.
Prediction: Belgium and Russia to qualify.
|Austria||Winner of Play-Off A/D*|
*If Romania wins Play-Off A, they will go in Group C otherwise the winner of Play-Off D will be placed in this group.
With top players like Virgil van Dijk and Memphis Depay, I can’t see Netherlands failing to qualify because they look ready to challenge for trophies again.
Ukraine and Austria meanwhile look like they are in direct competition for the second qualification spot, unless Kosovo win their Play-Off Group D and end up in this group then I can see them mounting a tough test.
I however am going for Ukraine to qualify alongside Netherlands because they’re a strong squad in each department, unlike Austria and the Play-Off teams.
Prediction: Netherlands and Ukraine to qualify.
|Winner of Play-Off C||Czech Republic|
Other than Croatia, England have a relatively easy group because I can’t see them suffering an embarrassing home defeat against Czech Republic and whoever qualifies via the Play-Off.
I therefore can see England definitely qualifying alongside Croatia because they’re both above their two opponents in terms of quality, with the first match deciding who tops the group.
Prediction: England and Croatia to qualify.
|Poland||Winner of Play-Off B|
In my opinion, this is a ‘group of death’ because Spain face both Sweden and Poland in their first two games which will be crucial to how this group plays out in terms of who qualifies.
I therefore don’t see the Play-Off winner qualifying but if it is one of the two Ireland teams, they could well influence who goes through because they will pose tough tests with their styles of play.
Spain however should qualify given their quality and home advantage but I am going for Poland to also progress if Robert Lewandowski is on form next summer.
Prediction: Spain and Poland to qualify.
|Winner of Play-Off A/D*||Portugal|
*If Romania wins Play-Off A, they will go in Group C with the Play-Off D winner going in Group F otherwise winner of Play-Off A will go in Group F.
What a Group F we have because there will definitely be tears for at least one top team because I can’t see the Play-Off winner progressing beyond this group, which will be an easy three points for France, Germany and Portugal.
The meetings between those three will therefore be crucial but France should definitely qualify because failure to do so would be unforgivable as current World Champions.
Portugal meanwhile will want to continue their title defence beyond this stage whilst Germany won’t want the embarrassment of two consecutive major tournament exits in the group stage.
Either way, we are going to lose a Superstar early and I can see it being Portugal because they lack the level of quality that France and Germany possess.
Prediction: France and Germany to qualify.