The draw for the Euro 2016 qualifying groups makes for very few groups of death,as the usual “big nations” and favorites like the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, England and Italy should all finish comfortably in first place considering the opponents they’ve drawn this time.
The big change of moving to 24 teams in the next tournament made this possible, meaning two teams from each of the nine groups qualify automatically, while one team from third place joins them and the other 8 nations to finish third decide the final four qualifiers in a home & away playoff.
Group A – Netherlands, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, Kazakhstan
It’s quite easy to determine the top team in this group, which will be the Dutch. But who joins them as automatic qualifiers? Turkey are probably a stronger team than the Czech Republic, which gives them the slight edge. Iceland will be a troublesome opponents for the third spot.
Group B – Bosnia, Belgium, Israel, Wales, Cyprus, Andorra
Two World Cup teams will also capture the top two spots: Belgium should finish first while Bosnia are favorites to grab the second place. Wales are better than Israel, and should finish above them for the third spot, leading to the playoffs.
Group C – Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, Macedonia, Luxembourg
One of the easiest groups to work out. Spain finish first, Ukraine come in second while Slovakia shouldn’t have too much trouble finishing ahead of Belarus.
Group D – Germany, Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, Gibraltar
Germany will probably sweep their schedule or something close to it, while Poland should do slightly better than Ireland, leaving them to qualify through the playoffs at third place.
Group E – England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino
Another rather easy group, with England finishing first (probably) while Switzerland a close second. Slovenia were with the Swiss in the qualifying group for the World Cup and didn’t come close to bothering them, and will settle for third.
Group F – Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands
Not the most attractive group possible, as Greece are likely to finish first, and Romania will come in second while Hungary will finish third, going to the playoffs.
Group G – Russia, Sweden, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova, Liechtenstein
Not the easiest of groups to call, but Sweden will finish as the top team, while Russia best Montenegro for the second place.
Group H – Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta
The Italians will finish first while making it look unimpressive, followed by Croatia. Bulgaria probably leap over Norway and finish third.
Group I – Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, Albania
Portugal always get Denmark and always have trouble with them. Denmark will finish first, while Portugal come from second. Serbia probably edge out Armenia for the playoff spot.