The June fixtures from the EURO 2020 qualifying competition are already in the history books. Let’s go over what happened over the past week and see what’s ahead when the battles resume in September.
The True Favorites
Some of Europe’s powerhouses are already with one foot into the final stage of the tournament next summer.
England top Group A despite having played only 2 games. A series of draws in the remaining matches has left the Czech Republic, who were thrashed 5:0 at Wembley, in second place. The remainder of this group will surely be a walk in the park for The Three Lions, with six more points virtually secure in the home games against Bulgaria and Kosovo in September.
Ukraine are the team to beat in Group B thus far. They achieved a shocking 5:0 win against Serbia at home. It wasn’t the victory itself which was unexpected, but the magnitude of the winning margin that surprised everybody. Ukraine sent a clear signal to their chasers in this group that it will require a very high level of performance from any team that strives to catch them, and that’s valid even for the reigning European and Nations League champions Portugal, who still haven’t played their game in Kiev.
As anticipated, even in a tough group on paper, these qualifiers are just a formality for Spain. La Furia Roja have 12 points – the maximum – five more than the second-placed team Sweden. The same is valid for last year’s World Cup bronze medallist Belgium, who have also recorded only victories thus far.
Two teams that disappointed their fans in the past two years – Poland and Italy – have drastically improved this time around and only a miracle can prevent them from qualifying for EURO 2020. Both of them also have the maximum amount of points.
Wales, Denmark, Norway, Greece, Bosnia and Bulgaria. The common thing among all of these national teams is that they anticipated much better results by themselves at this stage of the qualifiers.
The Dragons have a mountain to climb after recording two consecutive losses. Their group is very competitive and even the World Cup finalists Croatia are not among the top two teams currently.
Denmark couldn’t beat the Republic of Ireland at home which, combined with the 10 points Ireland have already gained, will pile up the pressure on the Danish Dynamite for the forthcoming fixtures.
After drawing at home with Romania, it seems that Norway is the team that can’t cope with the competition in the hardest group on paper. We already mentioned that Spain is a firm favorite in Group F. Sweden and Romania have the advantage in the battle for the second spot, leaving the Norwegians to mostly rely on their playoff games which they qualified for by virtue of the Nations League. Sweden have the upper hand in their battle with Romania as the Romanians still haven’t played Spain. So far, the Sweden to finish in the top two outright bet that I suggested before the qualifiers started is developing nicely. However, Bucharest will be among the EURO 2020 host cities, meaning Romania will be hungrier than ever to claim the second spot in the group.
Group J has provided a few surprising results. The teams that were expected to fight for the second spot – Bosnia and Greece – occupy 5th and 4th place, respectively. Both national football teams have offered mediocre quality of play and they deservedly are where they currently find themselves. Finland and Armenia are the ones surprisingly above them. Finland especially continues the upward trend in its performance after winning their group in League C of the Nations League. Bosnia and Greece still have time to fix their woes though.
For all of the teams above, the autumn fixtures are crucial. They can’t allow many more mistakes, otherwise they will have to watch EURO 2020 on TV.
One team which will definitely watch it on TV, barring a miracle, is Bulgaria. They are bottom of a not so impressive Group A with their hardest fixtures still to come. It’s a huge blow to them and a big step downwards after their respectable Nations League campaign.
The Intriguing Battles Ahead
Each group offers some drama. The main question in Group A is will Kosovo manage to cause trouble for the Czech Republic and surprisingly claim second place. This team is capable of achieving that, they are flying high being undefeated since 2017, their supporters are very emotionally attached to the team and they are certainly capable of qualifying for EURO 2020 directly. If they fail, they still have a guaranteed playoff spot for the games in March 2020.
Portugal and Serbia will have to perform at their highest standards in each Matchday until the end of the qualifiers. Ukraine has already opened a huge lead in terms of points. The next fixture sees Serbia hosting Portugal which means that the loser will feel even more pressure after that game.
The current Group C standings show a surprising leader in the face of Northern Ireland. However, the Green and White Army simply did what they were expected to do – record two wins apiece against Belarus and Estonia. What’s left for them until the end of the campaign are four gruelling matches against Germany and Netherlands. It’s safe to say that despite having the maximum amount of points, Northern Ireland are heavy underdogs to claim one of the top two spots in this group.
The same is valid for the Republic of Ireland who have a five-point lead over the second-placed team in their group, but they also have played more games and, in addition, have already met Gibraltar twice. The hard work is still ahead for The Boys in Green.
Group E is maybe the most interesting one when you have a look at the standings. Semi-finalists in the last two major summer tournaments, Wales and Croatia are having a hard time. They currently sit at 4th and 3rd place, respectively. Hungary and Slovakia are playing well, and September’s fixtures will undoubtedly be very interesting.
We already mentioned the battle between Sweden and Romania in Group F. A two-horse race is on the cards in Group G as well. Israel and Austria are expected to battle it out. On paper, Slovenia and North Macedonia are still in the race. However, the Macedonians lost two games at home in the space of three days, whereas Slovenia have shown disappointing quality of football over the last year and a 5:0 drubbing of the total underdog Latvia can’t mask their deficiencies.
Despite losing away to Turkey, France are expected to comfortably top Group H when the last ball is kicked in November. The battle for second place between Turkey and Iceland, however, will get more heated after every single matchday. Albania are still in the mix, although their results until now are rather lacklustre.
The main intrigue in Group I is whether Scotland can manage to cause trouble for Russia and challenge them for the second place in the group behind Belgium. The next matchday includes a game between both teams at Hampden Park and will be one of the main events in the EURO 2020 qualifiers in September.
As previously mentioned, Group J provides an entertaining four-team battle – all of Finland, Armenia, Bosnia and Greece still haven’t said their last word. Who will emerge victorious? Come back to the EURO 2020 section of Shrewd Sports Bets again for the latest news and betting opportunities when the competition resumes in September.