European Championship 2021 Playoff Finals: Who will qualify?
Thursday evening kicks off the final four games for the European Championship qualifying rounds, to see who will compete in the tournament next summer.
After the captivating semi-final games held last month, teams like Republic of Ireland and Norway crashed out of the qualifying rounds. Now we see the last eight teams go head to head for those all important Euro group slots.
The Nations League gave these countries the chance to qualify for the tournament, after each team topped their group. By progressing into the playoffs, these nations have a second chance at playing at Euros next summer. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the tournament was unfortunately moved to 2021.
However with only eight months left to go, we preview the final playoff games to see which nations will battle there way through to the Euros next year.
Hungary V Iceland (7:45pm)
In path A of the European championship qualification playoffs, both teams edged their way to the final. Two impressive goals from Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson gave Iceland a 2-1 victory over Romania. Hungary on the other hand, beat Bulgaria 3-1 in a dominating team performance.
This game is a repeat of their Euro 2016 group stage match when they drew 1-1 and both teams went on to progress into the next round. Iceland’s tournament was a huge success after shocking England in the Round of 16 before getting knocked out by France in the quarters. Hungary bowed out of the competition after losing 4-0 to Belgium in the first knockout round.
This game will no doubt be a tight and intense fixture, one to definitely keep an eye on. Both teams are good enough to compete in the tournament, as seen four years ago coming 1st and 2nd in their group.
However they each shown a dip in form compared to their last European qualifying run. Hungary finished 4th in their group behind Slovakia, Wales and Croatia, while Iceland just missed out in group H finishing third.
The winner of this playoff final in path A, will play in group F next summer, commonly known as the ‘group of death’ for the tournament. The group consists of Germany, France and Portugal, three teams that will be very difficult for either of these nations to compete with.
Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a delightful double to help Iceland make the Euro 2020 qualifying play off final 🇮🇸 pic.twitter.com/zKemxmIAro
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 9, 2020
Northern Ireland V Slovakia (7:45pm)
One of the two national teams in the playoff finals from the UK, is Northern Ireland. They play Slovakia on Thursday, after beating a strong Bosnia and Herzegovina side last month. The game finished 1-1 after extra time, before a tense penalty shoot-out saw goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell shine to progress Northern Ireland into the finals.
Slovakia also had their fate decided on penalties. They prevented an all Irish final by beating the Republic of Ireland 4-2 on penalties following a 0-0 draw. Spurs right back, Matt Doherty missed their final spot kick to take Slovakia into the final.
Northern Ireland put in a good performance in the Euro qualifiers, but couldn’t get results against European heavyweights Germany and Netherlands to finish third. Slovakia finished third as well in group E, missing out to Wales in the final group game.
While it seems that Slovakia will be a hard task to overcome, Northern Ireland will take confidence from their last few qualifying games that they can beat them. It will be a good match that will test both sides resilience in front of goal.
The winner of this tie will go into group E with the likes of Spain, Poland and Sweden, who will give both sides something to look forward to.
— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) November 9, 2020
Georgia V North Macedonia (5pm)
The two lowest ranked teams in the playoff finals, according to the FIFA world rankings, will face each other. North Macedonia travel to Georgia for their playoff final. Path D has arguably been the easier route compared to other teams. This fixture will be a repeat of their last international fixture, when they drew 1-1 in the Nations League last month.
Georgia beat Belarus in their playoff semi-final, thanks to a Tornike Okriashvili penalty in the 7th minute. The game finished 1-0 but didn’t leave much excitement for fans. North Macedonia won their semi-final 2-1 against Kosovo, with all goals coming in the first half before holding on to progress.
Neither team had the best of runs in the Euro qualifiers however. Georgia finished 4th in group D behind Switzerland, Denmark and Republic of Ireland. Whereas North Macedonia missed out in third to Poland and Austria in group G.
As seen in their last fixture, this game will be too close for comfort for either manager. While both teams lack a scoring edge, they will also be hoping not to concede easy goals as they have before.
The winner of path D’s playoff final will go into a Euro group consisting of Ukraine, Netherlands and Austria. They could possibly have an easier time at the Euro’s compared to other lower ranked teams, but will still have a hard challenge up ahead.
✅ Who did they beat?
⚽️ Goal scorer?
🤔 Key moments?
🇲🇰 Throwback to how North Macedonia reached the #EURO2020 play-off finals 👇
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) November 9, 2020
Serbia V Scotland (7:45pm)
The second UK nation in the European Championship playoff finals, is Scotland. Steve Clarke’s side have been on terrific form, unbeaten in their last eight games. They will however, play a strong Serbian team who have only lost two games in their last 10.
Scotland qualified after a 0-0 stalemate against Israel, resulted in them winning 5-3 on penalties. Kenny McLean came on in 113th minute before slotting home the last penalty to send them into the finals. Talented players like Andrew Robertson, John McGinn and Scott McTominay will all feature in their final qualifying game.
Serbia arguably had the toughest semi-final fixture. They beat a talented Norway team, consisting of star striker Erling Braut Haaland and Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard. Serbia won 2-1, after substitute Sergej Milinkovic-Savic came on in the 80th minute to score two goals, with one coming in extra time.
Serbia will be tough opposition for Scotland. Their team includes the likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Tadic and Luka Jovic going forward. Scotland may struggle to keep out goals in this fixture, but will be determined to reach their first major tournament since 1998.
The winner of this game will play England, Croatia and Czech Republic in group D. A potential England v Scotland fixture for the first time in a major tournament since Euro’s 1996, will excite fans leading up to this game.
We hope you enjoyed the article ‘European Championship 2020 Playoffs: Who will qualify?’ Who do you think will qualify for the European Championship next summer? Let us know!
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