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Dublin: 14°C Saturday 31 October 2020

Northern Ireland and Wales on brink of history - here's who can qualify for Euro 2016

There’s plenty of football still to be played as the stakes are raised.

WITH TWO GAMES of the qualifying campaign remaining, five teams – including hosts France – have booked their place at next summer’s European Championships with 15 more countries set to join them over the next few days.

Between tonight and Tuesday, we’ll discover who will be at Euro 2016, who will miss out and who will enter the lottery of the playoffs.

After more than 12 months of qualifying, there’s a lot still to be decided and it all makes for an exciting conclusion.

Here, we take a look at the nine groups and how things stand heading into the final two fixtures:

N.B. The top-two sides qualify, while the third-place team go into a playoff (unless they are the best third-placed team across Europe, in which case they also qualify automatically).

Group A:

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Top two: Iceland (qualified), Czech Republic (qualified)
Playoff: Turkey
Can still qualify:

Remaining fixtures (Saturday and Tuesday): 

  • Iceland v Latvia
  • Kazakhstan v Netherlands
  • Czech Republic v Turkey
  • Latvia v Kazakhstan
  • Netherlands v Czech Republic
  • Turkey v Iceland

State of play: This is a fascinating group, purely because Netherlands face the possibility of missing out on their first European Championships since 1984.

Both Iceland and Czech Republic have secured qualification. Turkey  can book their place in the playoffs by drawing against Czech Republic on Saturday and if the Dutch loss to Kazakhstan.

Group B

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Top two: Wales, Belgium
Playoff: Israel
Can still qualify: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cyprus

Remaining fixtures (Saturday and Tuesday):

  • Andorra v Belgium
  • Bosnia v Wales
  • Israel v Cyprus
  • Belgium v Israel
  • Cyprus v Bosnia
  • Wales v Andorra

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group B - Wales v Israel - Cardiff City Stadium Source: Joe Giddens

State of play: All eyes are on Chris Coleman’s Wales. They’re assured of a place in the playoffs but require just one more point from their last two fixtures to qualify automatically for the first time.

A trip to Bosnia is followed by the visit of Andorra to Cardiff so you’d expect them to get over the line. Belgium will also qualify if they beat Andorra on Saturday while the race for third is fierce.

Group C

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Top two: Spain, Slovakia

Remaining fixtures (Friday and Monday):

  • Macedonia v Ukraine
  • Slovakia v Belarus
  • Spain v Luxembourg
  • Belarus v Macedonia
  • Luxembourg V Slovakia
  • Ukraine v Spain

State of play: This group is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Spain just need to beat Luxembourg to qualify while Slovakia know victory over Belarus will assure them of a place in France. The top three are out of reach so Ukraine are secured of at least third place.

Group D

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Top two: Germany, Poland
Playoff: Ireland
Can still finish third: Scotland

Remaining fixtures (Thursday and Sunday):

  • Georgia v Gibraltar
  • Ireland v Germany
  • Scotland v Poland
  • Germany v Georgia
  • Gibraltar v Scotland
  • Poland v Ireland

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group D - Republic of Ireland v Germany - Germany Training Session - Aviva Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images

State of play: The big one. Germany, now guaranteed at least a play-off, will qualify a game early if they avoid defeat in Dublin. Poland could also reach the finals by winning if Ireland fail to beat Germany.

We’ve done all the calculations right here.

Group E

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Top two: England (qualified), Switzerland
Playoff: Slovenia
Can still qualify: Estonia, Lithuania

Remaining fixtures (Friday and Monday):

  • England v Estonia
  • Slovenia v Lithuania
  • Switzerland v San Marino
  • Estonia v Switzerland
  • Lithuania v England
  • San Marino v Slovenia

State of play: For England, the hard work is done. Roy Hodgson’s men secured their place in France last month and are the only team with a 100%. Behind them, however, is an almighty scrap.

Switzerland need four points to be certain of qualification while Slovenia need to win both of their games and hope the Swiss slip-up in one of theirs. Lithuania must overcome Slovenia to maintain their hopes while Estonia will almost certainly have to settle for third at best – but they have to win both outings to have any chance.

Group F

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Top two: Northern Ireland, Romania
Playoff: Hungary
Can still qualify: Finland

Remaining fixtures (Thursday and Sunday):

  • Hungary v Faroe Islands
  • Northern Ireland v Greece
  • Romania v Finland
  • Faroe Islands v Romania
  • Finland v Northern Ireland
  • Greece v Hungary

State of play: Can Northern Ireland do it? It’s squeaky bum time as Michael O’Neill’s side look for the the victory that would see them qualify for their first major tournament in three decades. Thursday’s home game against Greece might be their best chance with a trip to Finland to conclude. But two points would be enough it itself.

Romania need four to qualify while Finland are still in with a shout of snatching third place off Hungary but they would need Hungary to slip-up against Faroe Islands.

Group G

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Top two: Austria (qualified), Russia
Playoff: Sweden
Can still qualify: Montenegro

Remaining fixtures (Friday and Monday):

  • Liechtenstein v Sweden
  • Moldova v Russia
  • Montenegro v Austria
  • Austria v Liechtenstein
  • Russia v Montenegro
  • Sweden v Moldova

State of play: Austria were the surprise packages of this group and have already booked their place in France. Russia can join them if they win in Moldova tomorrow and both Sweden and Montenegro drop points.

Zlatan and the Swedes know they need all six points to stand a chance but still then need Russia to drop points.

Group H

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Top two: Italy, Norway
Playoff: Croatia 

Remaining fixtures (Saturday and Tuesday):

  • Azerbaijan v Italy
  • Norway v Malta
  • Croatia v Bulgaria
  • Bulgaria v Azerbaijan
  • Italy v Norway
  • Malta v Croatia

Italy Bulgaria Euro Soccer Source: AP/Press Association Images

State of play: It’s now a three horse race in Group H. Italy need four points at most to qualify while Norway need two wins to assure themselves of a passage through. Croatia, too, can still finish inside the top-two but a possible point deduction could mean they have to settle for third.

Group I

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Top two: Portugal, Denmark
Third: Albania

Remaining fixtures (Thursday and Sunday):

  • Albania v Serbia
  • Portugal v Denmark
  • Armenia v Albania
  • Serbia v Portugal

State of play: Portugal can seal the deal with a point tonight but it looks like Denmark will need to win in Lisbon or else face the playoffs. You’d expect Albania to win their two remaining matches and thus see them leapfrog Denmark into second.

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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