Euro 2016 Report
The time is here for another round of qualifiers for Euro 2016 in France. We are reaching the halfway point in the qualification stage, and places are still very much up for grabs for many nations.
Here are some of the qualification games this weekend that you want to keep an extra eye on:
Spain – Ukraine (Group C)
Spain has lost some of its former glory, but this is still one of the best national sides in the world. They are however trailing Slovakia by three points after four games. Ukraine are level with Spain on points (9), but Spain has a +10 gaol differential and Ukraine has a +5 differential. This is the first meeting between the two nations, and if there’s a winner, they will still be in the race to catch Slovakia in first. Valencia’s Paco Alcacer is the top goal scorer for the Spaniards with three goals in four games. Spain has scored 13 goals in four games, and that’s second most of all nations, only Poland with 15 are ahead of the yellow and red.
Ukraine has only allowed a single goal, and that came in the 1-0 loss to Slovakia. Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kiev) has scored 3 goals in four games, and that’s half of all the goals scored by Ukraine. It will be a battle of Spain’s attacking style against a very sound Ukraine defense. With the game being played in Spain, the Ukrainians might even field an even more defensive minded starting 11 than usual.
Croatia – Norway (Group H)
Croatia, the leaders of Group H will host third-placed Norway on Saturday. Croatia are tied with Italy on 10 points after four games, and Norway sits in third with nine points. The Croatians have been extremely impressive so far, and has only allowed a single goal while scoring 10 and are still undefeated. The one goal allowed came in a 1-1 draw away to Italy, and they also have a 6-0 thrashing of Azerbaijan in the books.
Ivan Perisic (Wolfsburg) led the Croatian team in scoring with three goals in three appearances. Norway suffered their only loss at the hands of Italy in the opening game of the qualifiers 2-0. Blackburn striker Joshua King leads Norway in goals after finding the net twice in four games.
Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb will be be packed to the brim with Croatian fans ready to cheer their nation to victory.
Netherlands – Turkey (Group A)
Two struggling nations meet up at the Amsterdam Arena in the Dutch capital on Saturday. Holland find themselves in third place in Group A with only six points in four games. The Dutch are three points behind Iceland, and six points behind leaders the Czech Republic. Turkey sits in fourth, two points behind the Netherlands, so this team is pretty much a must-win for both sides.
The winners will still have a good chance to catch up to Iceland and the Czechs, and they both must go for it as a draw would be a very disappointing result and could put them even further behind. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04) leads the Dutch with three goals in three games. They also have superstar Arjen Robben to lean on and he has two goals in four games. The Turks have struggled in the goalscoring department, with only five goals in four games while allowing seven. Burak Yilmaz (Galatasaray) has two goals in two appearances and leads the Turkish team in scoring.
Georgia – Germany (Group D)
Another team that has stumbled a little is World Cup champions Germany. They are in second place in Group D, three points behind leaders Poland and has two wins, one loss and a draw after four games. The 2-0 loss away to Poland was a very surprising result as many experts thought that Germany would cruise through this group. They will travel to Tbilisi to take on fifth-place Georgia that has only one win and three points after four games.
Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) leads Germany in scoring with four goals in four games. Georgia scored three out of their four goals in the win over last-placed Gibraltar and they will be huge underdogs against the Germans.
The top of Group D is extremely interesting, with Poland owning 10 points, and then Germany, Scotland and Republic of Ireland all with seven points.
Ireland – Poland (Group D)
Another exciting and important game in Group D takes place right after the Georgia – Germany game as Ireland host the leaders from Poland. The Polacks are still undefeated after three wins and a draw. They have two accomplished strikers in Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) and Arek Milik (Bayer Leverkusen). Lewandowski has four goals in four appearances and Milik has three goals. Ireland will rely on LA Galaxt star Robbie Keane, as he has three goals in four games and has had a good start to the MLS season. The Irish demolished Gibraltar 7-0 in their last home game, and drew 1-1 away to Germany. In their last qualification game the Irish lost a close game against Scotland 1-0 and they will be ready to take out that frustration on Poland.
This is an extremely important game for the Irish as Germany and Scotland both have easy games on paper and they don’t want to fall behind in a very competitive group.