The fifth round of the European Qualifiers took place over the last couple days. European Championships are scheduled for June of 2016 and will be played in France. 53 different national teams are trying to qualify for the first ever expanded field of 24 teams. The tournament has had 16 teams since 1996 when the tournament doubled from 8 to 16 teams. They are now adding another 8 teams to the mix. What this really means is that there will be some nations that have never made the Euros finally get their chance on the big stage. For qualifying, the 53 nations are split into 8 groups with 6 teams and one group with 5 teams. The winners and runners-up automatically qualify, and the best overall third place team will qualify. The worst teams’ results will not count towards third place in the calculators for the groups with 6 teams. The other eight remaining third place teams will play a two-legged playoff to see who gets to join France at Euro 2016.
This past week was Matchday 5 out of 10. Here is a quick look at all of the groups and where the big teams stand…
Group A has the Czech Republic on top of the table with Iceland just a point behind them. The Netherlands are in third, with Turkey right on their heels.
Group B Is topped by Wales currently, but Israel and Belgium are both within striking distance and have played one less game. Bosnia and Herzegovina are 3 points behind Belgium in 5th.
Group C has Slovakia on top who have won 5 out of 5 games. Spain is in second due to their loss to Slovakia. Ukraine sit in 3rd and are 3 points behind Spain.
Group D has two teams from the British Isles who are competing for third place in Scotland and Ireland. Poland is on top of the group currently, with Germany just a point behind them. Scotland is level on points with Germany and Ireland is two behind them.
England leads Group E as they seem to be running away with the group. Slovenia and Switzerland are in a battle for 2nd and 3rd.
Group F has the last British Isles team in Northern Ireland who sit in 2nd place. Romania tops the group with Hungary in 3rd. Northern Ireland could be on their way to finally qualifying for the Euros.
Group G has Austria on top with Zlatan and Sweden in second. Russia is battling with Montenegro for third place.
In Group H, Croatia is leading Italy by 2 points at the top end of the table. Norway are in third place.
Lastly in Group I, Portugal sits atop the group with Denmark and Albania both 2 points behind. These 3 teams have been beating up on Serbia and Armenia.
Looking at all of the top 3 teams, Scotland is currently the best team but they are all really close.
The qualifying should get more and more interesting as the year goes on. The next matchday is in June and end in October.