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Our EURO 2016 Qualifying previews continue here with Groups A, B and H. Groups A and B certainly can go in any direction at this point. There is so much to play for.
EURO 2016 Qualifying Group A
Czech Republic v. Latvia – Prague, Czech Republic
One of only 3 teams in EURO 2016 Qualifying to be on 12 points, the Czech Republic is in a great position to continue their fine form and solidify a place in the finals. Latvia had a run of 4 consecutive clean sheets in 2014, but they’re right back to their old ways, allowing 10 goals in their past 3 matches. While the Czech Republic has gone 8 straight without a clean sheet, they’ve been scoring at a very high rate. They’ve scored multiple goals in every qualifying match thus far, and we expect that trend to continue. We’d be shocked to not see the Czechs at EURO 2016.
Odds: Czech Republic 87.8%, Latvia 3.4%, Draw 8.8%
Score Prediction: Czech Republic 3 – Latvia 0
Kazakhstan v. Iceland – Astana, Kazakhstan
While this is a big match for Kazakhstan’s hopes to reach the finals, it’s arguably even bigger for Iceland. After a hot start, the Dutch are right on their heels. They need to take care of business. While we don’t expect Iceland to finish 4th, we only give them about a 50/50 shot of qualifying directly. These are the types of matches that make the difference. It’ll be a tough go of it in a hostile environment after a very long travel trip, but we think Iceland has the talent to overcome the Kazakhs.
Odds: Kazakhstan 9.2%, Iceland 75.2%, Draw 15.6%
Score Prediction: Iceland 2 – Kazakhstan 0
Netherlands v. Turkey – Amsterdam, Netherlands
This is probably the biggest match in Group A, and Turkey is in a terrible position. Already far behind the field, Turkey will have a massive mountain to climb if they come up empty in Amsterdam. If that is the case, Turkey will be 5 points behind 3rd and 8 points behind 2nd with just 5 matches to play. Unfortunately, the Dutch have won 6 straight on home soil against European competition, scoring 26 goals and conceding just 2 in those matches. We think Turkey will put up a good fight but ultimately come up short in this match, as well as in their attempt to qualify for EURO 2016.
Odds: Netherlands 72.2%, Turkey 11.0%, Draw 16.8%
Score Prediction: Netherlands 2 – Turkey 1
EURO 2016 Qualifying Group B
Andorra v. Bosnia-Herzegovina – Andorra la Vella, Andorra
The good news is that this match presents an opportunity for Bosnia to pick up some points away from home. The bad news is that they’re in a huge hole, taking just 2 points from 4 matches. Andorra played Wales tough at home, and they’ve scored in both home qualifiers, but we’re not expecting much from them here. They’re our lowest ranked team in UEFA, and Bosnia needs to leave little doubt in this affair.
Odds: Andorra 1.0%, Bosnia-Herzegovina 95.2%, Draw 3.8%
Score Prediction: Bosnia-Herzegovina 3 – Andorra 0
Belgium v. Cyprus – Brussels, Belgium
With only 5 points from 3 matches, Belgium’s campaign thus far must leave a little to be desired. But they’re in fine position, stalking 2nd place Wales with a game in hand. We fully expect Belgium to be at EURO 2016. It would be a massive shock if they weren’t. But Cyprus has proven that they’re no pushover. They’ve won at Bosnia, and suffered very narrow defeats to Wales and Israel. Unfortunately, this is bad timing, as Belgium is really looking to break out. We think they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and get blasted by Belgium.
Odds: Belgium 90.6%, Cyprus 2.3%, Draw 7.1%
Score Prediction: Belgium 3 – Cyprus 0
Israel v. Wales – Jerusalem, Israel
No match in Group B carries bigger weight than this one. Israel is perfect through 3 matches and currently sits atop the Group B table. Wales is a single point behind in 2nd. Wales has done what they needed to do, for the most part. They defeated Cyrpus and Andorra. They drew at Belgium. Solid so far, but there is work to be done. Israel always seems to start qualifying campaigns with a weak schedule, but they’ve been unusually potent. They scored 13 goals in their final 4 matches in 2014, which bodes well for their future. If Wales can get a point or better from this, it’ll tilt the scale a little more in their direction. It’ll be close.
Odds: Israel 46.3%, Wales 28.7%, Draw 25.0%
Score Prediction: Israel 2 – Wales 1
EURO 2016 Qualifying Group H
Azerbaijan v. Malta – Baku, Azerbaijan
The two bottom-feeders in Group H have combined for 1 point from 8 matches. Neither has any chance of catching Croatia or Italy, and it’s looking more likely that they won’t catch Norway either. That equates to both teams missing out on EURO 2016. We did not have a single scenario in 1,000 simulations where either reached 3rd place. Unfortuntae, but there is a huge talent gap in this group. This game will not carry much meaning.
Odds: Azerbaijan 60.9%, Malta 17.3%, Draw 21.8%
Score Prediction: Azerbaijan 2 – Malta 1
Bulgaria v. Italy – Sofia, Bulgaria
While other matches are possibly more important across the EURO 2016 landscape, Bulgaria arguably has the most at stake in March. They have to beat Italy. There’s really no other option if they want to have a shot. They’ve already lost to Croatia and Norway, and they were only able to manage a draw at home against Malta. That means they NEED 3 points here, because there are tough matches ahead. Bulgaria hasn’t beaten a top flight opponent in qualifying in almost 5 years. Unfortunately, we think this is going to be too tall a task.
Odds: Bulgaria 8.6%, Italy 74.8%, Draw 16.6%
Score Prediction: Italy 2 – Bulgaria 0
Croatia v. Norway – Zagreb, Croatia
This match is important for Croatia for 2 reasons. If they win, they are in great shape to reach Pot 1 for World Cup Qualifying. Secondly, if they win, they are all but assured of reaching EURO 2016. Norway has certainly exceeded our expectations thus far, and they look like a great bet to reach the playoffs, but we think they’re overmatched here. While they have been playing well, they have an extremely difficult time scoring against top competition. If they can escape with a point, they should be ecstatic. We think Croatia drops the hammer.
Odds: Croatia 87.3%, Norway 3.4%, Draw 9.3%
Score Prediction: Croatia 3 – Norway 0
Thanks for reading our EURO 2016 Qualifying Preview for Groups C, E, and G. The rest will be out soon. Please follow us on Twitter @We_Global for the latest international updates!