3 things to watch out for in the Euro 2016 qualifiers


Domestic football gives way to the international break for the first time in 2015/16, but that’s no reason to despair.

The European Championship qualifiers are approaching their business end, with a number of intriguing subplots bubbling underneath the surface.

We have already touched on what’s next for all of the Home Nations this week, so here are three things to look out for from the rest of the continent’s perspective:

1) The Netherlands’ do-or-die week

Danny Blind couldn’t have more of a baptism of fire in his first two matches as Guus Hiddink’s Oranje successor if he tried.

After the 68-year-old quit just 10 months into his second stint in charge, his then assistant was promoted to steady a ship that lies five points adrift of the top of Group A.

Iceland and Czech Republic, who both beat Hiddink’s outfit to leave the Dutch in their current predicament, lead the way in the group, with Turkey tantalisingly placed two points behind the Netherlands in fourth.

Anything less than two wins over Iceland and Turkey in his first two games in charge would leave Blind extremely unlikely to take his squad to France.

Ladbrokes are certainly confident of Blind delivering, with the bookmaker offering 3/10 on victory over Iceland.

2) Under 2.5 goals in Group F

Without a European heavy-hitter to skew the goal tallies, Group F has become the first and only stop for under 2.5-goal backers during the qualifiers.

In 18 games during the mini league, only four of them have passed the bettors’ yardstick for entertainment, with Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland the group’s top scorers with eight strikes in their six outings.

Unsurprisingly, Ladbrokes are odds-on that there will be under 2.5 goals in the Faroe Islands v Northern Ireland, Greece v Finland and Hungary v Romania matches.

3) Slovakia’s winning streak

Two nations retain 100 percent records heading into the latest round of fixtures, but odds on those two teams being England and Slovakia at the qualification’s outset would have even made Nostradamus a bucket load of cash.

Jan Kozak’s side will have their perfect set of form tested next time out, when they face Group C second place outfit Spain in Oviedo.

Considering they triumphed 2-1 the last time they met Vicente del Bosque’s side, and have bettered all opposition in their group, the 12/1 offered by Ladbrokes on a Slovak win looks well worth investing in.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.