We have entered the final stretch of Euro 2016 qualifying, but there is still so much to be determined with only four or five matches left to play for each team. If you remember back before qualifying got underway, I wrote a piece on five teams that you should look out for; a few up and comers and some of the more established teams, who still have something to prove. On that list I had: Belgium, Bosnia, England, Serbia and Spain.
Bosnia and Serbia have all struggled putting together wins thus far, while Belgium, England and Spain have had little problem scoring and racking up wins.
Since we are halfway through qualifying, it would only make sense to look at five teams, who have either flopped or surpassed expectations in Euro Cup qualifying.
1. Iceland sits second in group A with 12 points and a +10 goal differential. Iceland also has scored the most goals in group A (12) and has allowed the least (2). I must say that I am surprised at how well this team has played; especially when you consider that they have the likes of Czech Republic, Netherlands and Turkey in their group-all teams who have had some kind of success in European football at one time or another. Sigurdsson leads group A with four goals scored and with Iceland still having to visit both Turkey and Netherlands, they will need their best player to play a big role.
Remaining matches: vs Czech Republic, @ Netherlands, vs Kazakhstan, vs Latvia, @ Turkey
2. After making their first World Cup appearance this past summer, Bosnia and Herzegovina has struggled to put together wins and continue their strong form from World Cup 2014 qualifying. Bosnia has dealt with many injuries across their entire team, which has caused them to slip up and give away points to opposing teams. Bosnia’s captain and star player, Edin Dzeko has been fairly quiet, but he did end up scoring a hat-trick in their last match vs Andorra, and now sits second in group B with four goals scored. Bosnia will also need much more from the likes of Pjanic and Ibisevic, if they want to find themselves in France in 2016.
Remaining matches: vs Israel, @ Belgium, vs Andorra, vs Wales, @ Cyprus
3. Maybe the biggest surprise thus far has been the play of Slovakia. Through five games, Slovakia sits atop group C with a maximum 15 points. Slovakia has mainly done it with a very balanced attack; three players on this team have two goals each-Hamsik, Kucka and Nemec. The one thing that Slovakia has done a great job of is scoring goals late; their winner vs Spain came in the 87th minute, while they were in a dog fight vs Belarus, but then ended up scoring two goals late, one in the 84th and the other in the 91st minute. I think that Spain will eventually overtake Slovakia and finish first in the group, but a second place finish is still remarkably good for a team most do not view as a “power house”.
Remaining matches: vs Macedonia, @ Spain, vs Ukraine, vs Belarus, @Luxembourg
4. Football fans around the world are well aware that Greece does not score a ton of goals, whether it is in qualifying, or the big stage, but one goal in five matches is not acceptable on any level. Greece sits dead last in group F with only two points and no wins, but even though most people have already counted them out from qualifying for the Euro Cup, I have a feeling that Greece will make one last run at possibly finishing third in this very balanced group, but it will no doubt take a lot of hard work and they will need to score more than a goal a game, something the team has struggled with.
Remaining matches: @ Faroe Islands, vs Finland, @ Romania, @ Northern Ireland, vs Hungary
5. Serbia, similar to Greece, has struggled immensely during the qualifying phase. One point from four matches is simply not good enough for a team that possess a number of quality players on its roster. Serbian forwards have not been scoring, which has been the teams weakness for a number of years now, the midfield players are not in sync at all, and injuries/lack of playing time at club teams to the backline has also hurt the squad. Serbia will need to win its remaining matches and pray that other results in their group go their way; otherwise it is yet another very disappointing qualifying phase for the team
Remaining matches: @ Denmark, vs Armenia, @ Albania, vs Portugal
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.