Euro 2020 Play-off Preview
2020 marks a new decade as well as a new year and more importantly, it’s a major tournament year. The countdown to Euro 2020 is well and truly on. The groups were assigned and 20 of the 24 teams were confirmed at the back-end of 2019, and we now look forward to the qualifying play-offs, which reach their climax in the path finals on March 31st. Incorporating Euro 2020 betting odds, we’ve previewed the upcoming semi-final matches due to take place on March 26th.
Bulgaria v Hungary
Bulgaria struggled in qualification, picking up just one win against the Czech Republic who had already secured their place in the main tournament. They’ll have home advantage in the semi-final and the final (if they make it that far), but will that be enough over a Hungary side who won four qualifying matches and missed out on an automatic place by only two points?
Iceland v Romania
Iceland’s Euro 2016 campaign was one to remember, as they made it all the way to the quarter-finals, beating England along the way. But recently, they’ve struggled to maintain that level of form and they face Romania, the highest-ranked nation, in the play-offs. However, Romania struggled in qualification and only recorded wins over the Faroe Islands and Malta – so it could prove an interesting tie where one goal wins it.
Bosnia & Herzegovina v Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland were handed a tricky group, with Germany and the Netherlands both automatically qualifying, and Michael O’Neill’s side had to settled for third. But Bosnia were Nations League group winners and are the highest-ranked team from League B. They also beat the Green and White Army in both of their Nations League games and surely should be considered favourites once again. While it’s possible, we think an all-Ireland final is an unlikely outcome.
Northern Ireland: 18/5
Slovakia v Republic of Ireland
Ireland and Slovakia both had a chance to qualify automatically, but Ireland, who needed to beat Denmark in their final game, drew. Slovakia also finished third in their group, despite winning their final match, with Wales progressing instead. Slovakia have never beaten the Boys in Green, but it’s Mick McCarthy’s side who go into this clash as underdogs.
Republic of Ireland: 5/2
Norway v Serbia
Norway and Serbia have met only once before, their international friendly ending in a draw in 2016. Both teams finished third in their qualifying groups and their upcoming play-off match is too close to call. There will be pressure on Serbia to qualify as the nation have failed to since the year 2000, when they made the quarter-finals as Yugoslavia. But they face a tough trip to Norway, who haven’t lost an international match at home since 2016. The winner of this match will undoubtedly progress as the path winner.
Scotland v Israel
Scotland and Israel meet for a third time in quick succession, as the two were pit in the same Nations League group, culminating in a home win for each side. Scotland could well have home advantage, and after losing to Kazakhstan in their opening group game, appear to have turned a corner. Israel on the other hand, finished fifth out of six and picked up three wins from 10 games.
Georgia v Belarus
Georgia and Belarus have never made a major tournament under their current independence and the two were unbeaten in their respective Nations League campaigns, with Belarus failing to concede a single goal. But Georgia must fancy their chances against a side that picked up just four points in the group stage and head coach Vladimír Weiss famously led Slovakia to the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup.
North Macedonia v Kosovo
Like the other teams in Path D, neither nation in their current independent state have ever qualified for a European Championship. But both North Macedonia and Kosovo won their respective groups in the Nations League, before finishing third in their Euro 2020 qualifying groups. Kosovo only became a FIFA member in 2016 and are better than their ranking of 114th suggests. They possess an attacking threat, as England found out in qualifying, so will surely edge their upcoming opponents.
North Macedonia: 29/20
*Odds correct as of 10/01/2020