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Which of the Home Nations Will Make it to Euro 2020 and How?


Coming up from Thursday are the final two matchdays in what has been an intriguing and unusual Euro 2020 Qualifying campaign. The ten groups will each see two teams qualify outright for the finals next summer, which take place at a host of venues across Europe, rather than just a single country, in celebration of 60 years since the first European Championship finals took place.

It has been something of a mixed bag in qualifying for the home nations so far with no team as yet confirmed as qualified, but with several teams still in with a chance of earning a place outright in the finals. If not, then they will be trying their best to earn a spot in the Nations League Playoffs, which take place in March 2020 and which offers a route to the finals for four more teams who do not qualify from the Euro 2020 qualifying group stage.

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Let’s now take a closer look at what is required for the four Home Nations teams, plus the Republic of Ireland in this week’s games.

Home Nations Requirements and Standings

England

  • Matchday 9 – England v Montenegro (Wembley – Thursday 7.45pm)
  • Matchday 10 – Kosovo v England (Pristiina Stadium – Sunday 5pm)

Group A Standings

Pos Team Ply Pts GD
1 England 6 15 20
2 Czech Republic 6 12 2
3 Kosovo 6 11 2
4 Montenegro 7 3 -12
5 Bulgaria 7 3 -12

Predictions:

  • England 4-0 Montenegro
  • Kosovo 1-3 England

Given that the Czech Republic face Kosovo in Prague on Matchday 9, this means England need just one point to ensure that they qualify from this group and in truth, they should pick up that and plenty more at home to a poor Montenegro side, that England beat 5-1 away from home earlier in the qualifiers.

That will make the game with Kosovo less daunting, especially if Kosovo have lost t the Czech’s as I feel will happen as it will mean Kosovo cannot finish in second spot in the group. As such, I am backing England to win this game too.

Wales

  • Matchday 9 – Azerbaijan v Wales (Baku, 5pm, Saturday)
  • Matchday 10 – Wales v Hungary (Cardiff, 7.45pm, Tuesday)

Group E Standings

Pos Team Ply Pts GD
1 Croatia 7 14 8
2 Hungary 7 12 -1
3 Slovakia 6 10 2
4 Wales 6 8 0
5 Azerbaijan 6 1 -9

Predictions

  • Azerbaijan 0-2 Wales
  • Wales 2-1 Hungary

Wales need Croatia to beat Slovakia on matchday nine for the best chance for them to progress from this group as if Slovakia can pick up a point, or win that game, then Wales qualifying hopes hang by a thread, even if they were to win both games.

However, I do fancy Croatia to beat the Slovaks and if they do, then Wales chances remain in their own hands. They need to win in Azerbaijan and then beat Hungary in Cardiff to earn second spot in the group and I don’t feel that those two results are beyond them, especially if Aaron Ramsey is back in the squad.

Northern Ireland

  • Matchday 9 – Ireland v Netherlands (Windsor Park, 7.45pm, Saturday)
  • Matchday 10 – Germany v N.Ireland (Commerzbank Arena, 7.45pm, Tuesday)

Group C Standings

Pos Team Ply Pts GD
1 Netherlands 6 15 12
2 Germany 6 15 14
3 Northern Ireland 6 12 1
4 Belarus 7 4 -8
5 Estonia 7 1 -19

Predictions

  • Northern Ireland 0-2 Netherlands
  • Germany 3-1 Northern Ireland

After a great start to the campaign with four wins, I can see Northern Ireland finishing it on the back of four defeats as they once again face the Netherlands and Germany in this round of fixtures. Obviously, against two of European football’s super-powers, Northern Ireland will struggle and in truth I don’t hold out much hope for them in either game.

That said, a strong finish in third spot should see them in the Nations League playoffs and against much lesser opposition, I think that they will have a very good chance to make it through as one of the four qualifiers from this competition next year.

Scotland

  • Matchday 9 – Cyprus v Scotland (Nicosia, 2pm, Saturday)
  • Matchday 10 – Scotland v Kazakhstan (Hampden, 7.45pm, Tuesday)

Group I Standings

Pos Team Ply Pts GD
1 Belgium (Q) 8 24 29
2 Russia (Q) 8 21 23
3 Cyprus 8 10 1
4 Scotland 8 9 -6
5 Kazakhstan 8 7 -4
6 San Marino 8 0 -43

Predictions

  • Cyprus 1-1 Scotland
  • Scotland 2-1 Kazakhstan

Steve Clarke has set his team the goal of finishing third in the group, which in truth Scotland should have achieved anyway. With Belgium and Russia so far ahead, the Scots defeat on the opening round of games in Kazakhstan, where they lost 4-0, set the tone for a disappointing campaign.

The good news is that the Scots can qualify for the finals via the Nations League Playoffs next March, but I feel they will want to head into those games on the back of positive results and while I can’t quite see them picking up maximum points here, I think a draw in Cyprus and revenge victory over Kazakhstan at Hampden Park should be enough for them to clinch third in the group.

Will the Republic of Ireland Qualify?

  • Matchday 9 – Friendly of Ireland v New Zealand (Arriva Stadium, 7.45pm, Thursday)
  • Matchday 10 – Republic of Ireland v Denmark (Arriva Stadium, 7.45pm Monday)

Group D Standings

Pos Team Ply Pts GD
1 Republic of Ireland 7 12 2
2 Denmark 6 12 11
3 Switzerland 6 11 7
4 Georgia 7 8 -3
5 Gibraltar 6 0 -17

Prediction

  • Republic of Ireland 1-0 Denmark

I can see the Swiss winning their last two games against Georgia and Gibraltar and similarly, I see the Danes also beating Gibraltar in their penultimate game in the group. If that happens then the Swiss will top the group from Denmark, who will be three points clear of Ireland.

However, a win for Ireland would give them a better head-to-head record against the Danes and mean that they qualify. Given that the Danes eliminated Ireland from the World Cup 2018 in the playoffs, (with a 5-1 thrashing for Ireland on home soil), the Irish have plenty of reasons to gain revenge for that.

Ireland’s strong defence needs to play a big part here and if they can keep the Danes quiet, I feel they have a chance to nick a goal, perhaps from a set piece, to earn a result which will send them into the finals next summer.