Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Euro 2016 Qualifying Preview: Unbeaten England face Slovenia, Italy eye top spot

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 10 Jun 2015


Qualifying for Euro 2016 swings back into view this weekend with five clashes between sides in the top two of their groups taking place over the three days.

Unbeaten England top that list after five wins from five and Roy Hodgson’s side could strengthen their grip on Group E when they travel to Slovenia.

Victory for the visitors would see them move nine points clear of Slovenia with four games remaining, while also giving the chance for Switzerland to jump into second place if they can beat Lithuania.

Over in Group A, Iceland host Czech Republic in another battle for top spot that is currently occupied by the visitors.

After just missing out on the World Cup, Iceland have continued to build using their momentum and they will remain above Netherlands even they suffer a repeat of the defeat in Plzen in November.

Guus Hiddink’s Netherlands have struggled in the qualifying campaign so far and they travel to Latvia looking for a response after losing 4-3 at the hands of United States in Amsterdam last Friday in a friendly. 

After reaching the World Cup quarter-finals in 2014, much was expected of Belgium and they have not disappointed with three wins so far.

However, Belgium are not running away with Group B due to Wales’ impressive form and the top two meet in Cardiff in what will be Gareth Bale’s 50th cap.

A draw would allow Israel the chance to move level with them both, providing they can overcome Bosnia-Herzegovina – who have struggled following their first World Cup appearance.

Beaten 2012 finalists Italy can move into pole position in Group H if they can find a way past current leaders Croatia, the two sides drew 1-1 earlier in the campaign, a result Antonio Conte’s side cannot afford again if they want to win the group.

And should Conte’s men suffer a defeat in Split they could find themselves in the play-off positions should Norway beat Azerbaijan.

The final top-two clash sees surprise package Northern Ireland host Group F leaders Romania in Belfast, while Hungary will hope to apply some pressure on both sides with a win over fourth-placed Finland.

World champions Germany face Gibraltar in Group D looking to boost their goal difference – Gibraltar have conceded 27 goals so far – as well as staying in touch with Poland.

The Poles are expected to maintain their unbeaten run against Georgia in Warsaw, while Scotland lie in wait should neither collect a win.

Gordon Strachan’s men – who are level with Germany on 10 points – face the Republic of Ireland on Saturday knowing a win could propel them into the top two, or at least strengthen their hold on third.

In Group I, leaders Portugal travel to Armenia and Denmark entertain Serbia, the Danes looking to keep the pressure on Fernando Santos’ squad.

Slovakia – who have a 100 per cent record in Group C – can move closer to the finals when they host Macedonia, while current European champions Spain visit Belarus hoping to stay in the top two.

Spain’s place is under threat from Ukraine, who face bottom of the table Luxembourg.

Austria’s tough trip to Russia could see their lead at the top of Group G diminish if they are unable to find a way past Fabio Capello’s side, while Sweden – who meet Montenegro – will hope for an away win to enable them to build on their current advantage of one point.

Meanwhile, Turkey travel to Kazakhstan, Andorra host Cyprus and 2004 champions Greece will look to end their disappointing form against Faroe Islands.

Minnows San Marino visit Estonia, Malta entertain Bulgaria and Liechtenstein will look to do the double over Moldova in Vaduz.


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