With the groups for EURO 2016 qualifying known, WGF will take a look at the groups and which teams benefited and which were hurt by the draw. 53 teams will be split into 9 groups for qualifying. Please feel free to comment on our projections below.
Here are the groups:
Netherlands, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, Kazakhstan
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Israel, Wales, Cyprus, Andorra
Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Luxembourg
Germany, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, Gibraltar
England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino
Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands
Russia, Sweden, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova, Liechtenstein
Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta
Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, Albania
24 teams, including host France will progress to EURO 2016. The top 2 teams from each group (18 teams), as well as the highest ranked 3rd place team will qualify directly. The other 8 3rd place teams will compete in the playoffs to produce the final 4 teams that will reach the finals.
Group A (Netherlands, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, Kazakhstan)
Not the strongest of groups, and we project the Dutch to finish 1st easily. But Iceland being in Pot 5 is rather surprising, given their strong run in World Cup Qualifiers. Somebody had to draw them. 2nd place should be a good battle between the Czechs, Turkey, and Iceland. We don’t see Latvia or Kazakhstan making too much noise here. We will give the Czechs a slight advantage here, with Iceland and Turkey on level footing. After Netherlands, this group is certainly wide open.
Group B (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Israel, Wales, Cyprus, Andorra)
Israel gets an extremely difficult draw yet again. Pot placement is so important. This group is probably going to look very similar to Belgium’s group in World Cup Qualifying. Belgium and Bosnia should be neck and neck throughout much of qualifying. None of the other 4 teams should give them much difficulty. Wales, Cyprus, and Andorra were some of the weakest teams in their respective pots. It will be interesting to see if any of them can give Israel a run for 3rd, as the bottom 3 in this group is the weakest among all groups. We project Israel as the best 3rd place team. 1st and 2nd may come down to goal differential, but since the top 2 teams qualify anyway, it shouldn’t matter.
Group C (Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Luxembourg)
By our rankings, this is one of the toughest groups. We have Spain and Ukraine ranked as the top teams in Pots 1 and 2 respectively. Slovakia and Belarus really did not fare well here. Macedonia could try to make some noise, but more likely, they will be towards the bottom of the group. We think Spain holds serve as the top team, but even if they don’t, it is extremely unlikely that the top 2 are anything but Spain and Ukraine. 3rd place should be a battle. Luxembourg should feel lucky to get any points in this group.
Group D (Germany, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, Gibraltar)
Like Group A, this should be a runaway for Germany here. None of the other nations should pose much of a threat to the Germans. After that, however, things get certainly more interesting. Ireland, Poland, and Scotland are all very close in terms of class. UEFA newcomer Gibraltar is also a total unknown. They could make some noise. It’s hard to know what to make of this group. On paper, Ireland should come out 2nd, but Poland and Scotland are no pushovers, and Gibraltar could stun everyone and make a move to 3rd or 2nd. Even Georgia isn’t a terrible team. Expect this group to come down to the wire. This is definitely one of the closest to call.
Group E (England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino)
This is a pretty tough draw for Slovenia. Switzerland is a seeded team for the World Cup, and England is always a quality opponent. Other than the top 3, however, the class certainly falls off. We have Estonia, Lithuania, and San Marino ranked right at the bottom of their respective pots. I wouldn’t expect any of those 3 to make much noise. It’s probably going to be England and Switzerland battling it out at the top. Perhaps Slovenia can make a run, but it is more likely they finish 3rd.
Group F (Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands)
If there’s any group where a team emerges from a lower pot, this will probably be it. Greece and Hungary were probably the weakest teams in their respective pots, while Romania and Finland were at the top of theirs. Romania and Finland should be ecstatic with this draw. If they ever had a chance to get back into major competition, this is it for Northern Ireland. We think Greece emerges atop this group, despite a tough go of it, but we see Romania and Finland both making some noise here. Romania went further than Hungary in World Cup Qualifying, and we’d expect to see the same again here. We also have been historically high on Finland due to their impressive form despite playing virtually no games at home. This one should be fun.
Group G (Russia, Sweden, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova, Liechtenstein)
Man, this is another tough draw for a lot of these teams. Moldova and Liechtenstein have already been eliminated. Sweden, Austria, and Montenegro as a 2,3,4 is about as tough as it gets. Mother Russia should still be able to navigate through a difficult group, but it won’t be easy. Austria and Sweden are joined at the hip in qualifying. The draw certainly did not do Austria or Montenegro any favors. It should be a great battle for 2nd place in this group, but this seems to be a group that will ultimately end in the order it stands now.
Group H (Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta)
Our predictor is historically low on Italy. They got off pretty easy here. We have Norway as the lowest team in Pot 3, while Croatia is around the middle of Pot 2. In fact, we have Azerbaijan and Bulgaria ranked ahead of Norway! Still, we think Croatia is a strong enough team to overtake Italy. Regardless, the Italians shouldn’t have any difficulty finishing in the top 2. The battle for 3rd place in this group is going to be great. Bulgaria, Norway and Azerbaijan are all relatively even. Malta should be bringing up the rear here.
Group I (Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, Albania)
Just because this group has 5 teams doesn’t make it any easier. Denmark is one of the more favorable Pot 2 teams to be drawn against, but Serbia is definitely the worst Pot 3 team you want to see. Armenia and Albania aren’t great, but they are certainly no pushovers. Portugal should easily finish in the Top 2 here, and we like Serbia to advance as well. Denmark hasn’t been playing that well of late, and they’ll need some luck to get into the Top 2. If one of Armenia and Albania jump to 3rd, it also wouldn’t be a surprise. This is a tough, tough group.
The 24 Teams
We project the standings to look like this:
|D||Germany||Republic of Ireland||Scotland|
We believe Israel will have the most points as a 3rd place team and qualify directly. Of the other 8 3rd place teams, we have Finland, Austria, Scotland, and Slovakia ranked the highest.
We hope you enjoyed our EURO 2016 initial reaction. We’ll have much more content throughout the qualifying process with updated odds and projections. Please be sure to follow us on Twitter @We_Global so you don’t miss our latest content. Thanks for reading!