Who will reach the finals?
There’s now just four rounds of games remaining in qualifying for Euro 2020, which kicks off in June next year.
No country has, as yet, booked their place in the finals. But the qualifying picture is starting to take shape.
Here we take a look at who is in pole position, and who might make a late run, before qualifying comes to a close in November.
The top two teams in each group qualify automatically. Four more nations will qualify via playoffs, qualification based on UEFA Nations League performance.
England are almost through with a 100% record after four games, and would qualify next month if they can win away to Czech Republic.
The real battle comes for second, with Czech Republic a point ahead of Kosovo with three games remaining. Both have to play at home to England, which means the meeting between the two teams in Plzen on Nov. 14 may well decide who qualifies automatically and who goes into the playoffs.
Ukraine‘s only dropped points so far came in a creditable 0-0 draw away to Portugal. If they win their home game against rock-bottom Lithuania on Oct. 11, they would qualify with a point at home to Portugal three days later.
Portugal are in a superb position after winning away to Serbia this month. Victory in their two matches against Luxembourg, and at home to Lithuania, will give them an unassailable position.
Serbia are almost out of contention, but not all hope is quite lost. They must win their next three games — Luxembourg home and away and a trip to Lithuania — and hope Portugal beat Ukraine on Oct. 14. However, because of their vastly inferior goal difference to Ukraine, it is likely their rivals would have to drop points at home to Lithuania for Serbia to have a chance on the final matchday… when it’s Serbia vs. Ukraine. They are guaranteed a playoff if they finish outside the top two.
This group still looks good for Germany and Netherlands, but can Northern Ireland cause a big shock?
Germany sit on top of the group ahead of Northern Ireland on goal difference, three points ahead of Netherlands who have a game in hand.
All three of Northern Ireland’s remaining games are against the group’s traditional powerhouses. If they are to have any chance of reaching the finals automatically it is almost certain they will have to win two of those matches. Germany and Netherlands very much have qualification in their own hands…. as long as they don’t slip up against Belarus or Estonia.
Denmark‘s 0-0 draw in Georgia could be hugely damaging in a very tight three-way fight. They are second, a point ahead of Switzerland having played a game more, with the two teams meeting in Copenhagen next time out. Defeat in that game would leave their qualification hopes hanging by a thread.
Republic of Ireland head the group, but have only one home match remaining and must go to the Swiss on Oct. 15. The final group game between Ireland and Denmark in Dublin on Nov. 18 is shaping up to be a qualification shootout.
Although Switzerland sit outside the top two, they are probably slight favourites to progress with games against Georgia and Gibraltar to finish their campaign. But if they lose in Denmark, the home match with Ireland on Oct. 15 could become a must-win affair.
Croatia’s shock 1-1 draw away to Azerbaijan, who picked up their first point, coupled with Slovakia’s win in Hungary has thrown this group wide open.
Croatia now lead the group, but have only a one-point advantage over Slovakia and Hungary. Wales, who have a game in hand, sit three points further back.
Slovakia and Hungary must both go to Croatia, which gives the World Cup finalists an edge. However, Croatia also have to go to Wales.
Wales, Slovakia and Hungary all have Azerbaijan still to play, which means they have the possibility to pick up a victory while at least one of their rivals drops points in a head to head meeting.
All in all it’s impossible to call this group at the moment, but the picture may look clearer after two huge games on Oct. 10 when the four meet: Croatia vs. Hungary and Slovakia vs. Wales.
Spain are all but assured a place at Euro 2020 with six wins from six, and will be though to the finals with victory in Norway on Oct. 12.
The real battle follows behind, with Sweden in second, one point ahead of Romania and two above Norway.
All three must play Spain, but Romania face the toughest task as they also have to host Norway on Oct. 15 and Sweden on Nov. 15. They will probably have to win both those matches to finish in the top two.
Romania may be up against it, but the results of those two matches will still have a huge bearing on which team takes second place. For instance, if Norway get a better result than Sweden in Bucharest, it could make all the difference.
Poland looked home and dry in this group, but one point from two qualifiers against Slovenia and Austria has suddenly left them vulnerable.
The Poles lead the group on 13 points, with Slovenia on 11, Austria on 10 and then Israel and North Macedonia both on 8.
It would still be a huge surprise if Poland were to fail to qualify from this position, as rival nations are all likely to take points off each other. Three wins will see them through regardless of other results.
Slovenia sit second, but their trip to Poland on the final day could leave them vulnerable. Austria probably remain slight favourites to take second, but they must visit Slovenia on Oct. 13 which looks crucial.
Though Israel remain in contention, they will have to get something away to Austria next time out to remain in the hunt for an automatic spot.
North Macedonia are the rank outsiders, as they are only team without a fixture left against pointless Latvia.
World champions France sit on top of the group on goal difference from Turkey and shouldn’t have any problem sealing their place, with games against Moldova and Albania to round off their campaign in November.
As Turkey are three points better off than Iceland with a vastly superior goal difference, they know two wins and a draw at home to their rivals on Nov. 14 will effectively assure them of a place in the finals.
Iceland‘s shock defeat in Albania means they are looking at a playoff, unless they can win in Istanbul.
Albania are six points off the top two and would need a miracle to force their way in.
Barring one of biggest shocks in world football, Belgium will qualify for the finals on Oct. 10 with a victory at home to minnows San Marino.
And Russia are almost certain to join them, sitting in second with an eight-point gap to Cyprus and Kazakhstan, and could also secure their place on the same day as Belgium if results go their way.
With six wins out of six, Italy are almost there and will complete the job with a home win over struggling Greece on Oct. 12.
The race for second is far closer, but Finland have the upper hand as they have already played Italy twice.
Bosnia and Herzegovina simply must win at home to Finland next time out to stand any realistic chance. But if Finland can win that match, and the home game against Armenia three days later, they would need just one point from their final two matches against Liechtenstein and Greece.
Armenia sit three points behind Finland and could very much be in contention if results go their way next month, but their final group match is away to Italy.
The best-performing nations from the UEFA Nations League who do not qualify automatically for Euro 2020 will get a playoff place.
There will be 16 teams in the playoffs, with four from each league path.
The winners of the two one-legged semifinals will meet in the final for a place at Euro 2020.
The UEFA Nations League rankings are as follows. The first four nations are guaranteed a playoff, should they need it. If a team qualifies automatically, then that place passes down the line.
The teams in bold would enter the playoffs. There would be a draw to decide which of Bulgaria, Israel and Hungary would take the spare place in the playoff path for Leagues A and B.
League A: Portugal, Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Germany, Iceland
League B: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland
League C: Scotland, Norway, Serbia, Finland, Bulgaria, Israel, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania
League D: Georgia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Belarus, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta, San Marino
It means the playoff would look like this:
Netherlands vs. Bulgaria/Israel/Hungary
Switzerland v Iceland
Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Bulgaria/Israel/Hungary
Austria vs. Wales
Scotland vs. Bulgaria/Israel/Hungary
Norway vs. Serbia
Georgia vs. Belarus
North Macedonia vs. Kosovo