EURO 2020 qualifiers: what to watch out for | European Qualifiers
Ireland set on seizing their chance
There was a mood of disappointment among Republic of Ireland fans after their 0-0 draw in Georgia on Saturday, but the Group D leaders still very much control their own fate. Mick McCarthy’s men need to beat either Switzerland or Denmark in their last two games to seal qualification – starting away to a Swiss side four points shy of the second-placed Danes. “We will want to play better than that in Switzerland, and we have done over the course of the campaign,” said McCarthy after the Tbilisi stalemate, which at least maintained his team’s unbeaten record in the section.
Spain standing on the verge
A last-gasp penalty for Norway thwarted Spain’s hopes of clinching a finals spot on Saturday, the match ending in a 1-1 draw described by Sergio Ramos as “a real pain”. The Real Madrid defender won a record 168th cap for the Roja in that game and is hungry for a different outcome in Sweden, where his team need just a draw to cross the Group F finishing line. “We approach the remaining games with calm and confidence,” said Ramos, though second-placed Sweden will be just as anxious to deny them and consolidate their one-point advantage over Romania.
Opportunity knocks for Armenia
Armenia have never qualified for a major tournament as an independent nation, and their dream of putting that right suffered a major blow when they drew 1-1 in Liechtenstein last time out. Nevertheless, Armen Gyulbudaghyants’ side can still glimpse the promised land. Two points behind Finland in third place in Group J, they can leapfrog their rivals with a victory in Turku – and with their campaign ending away to Italy next month, this looks like a must-win encounter. The only trouble is, they will have to do it without injured talisman Henrikh Mkhitaryan.