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Euro 2016: Who’s Going To Be There…

November 28, 2015

- Grant Whittington

It’s an exciting summer next year for football fans as the very best teams across Europe gather in France for the always exciting European Championships. Once more eyes will be firmly on the vastly improved England squad as Roy Hodgson attempts to get them through the contest and (fingers crossed) towards a respectable finish. Cynically we think it’s safe to assume that English hearts will ultimately be broken but with so much world-class footballing action to enjoy along the way it can’t be all bad.

It was another well fought battle to the finals with some typical shocks and surprises as well as a few upsets along the way. There were a few surprise results during the qualifiers which led to a number of teams departing earlier than expected. This included Denmark, Scotland, and the winners of the 2004 tournament Greece. Even more shocking was that the Netherlands failed to qualify for the first time since 1984.

Euro 2016 will see a tournament expansion from 16 to 24 teams which will mean that two more groups will be included at the group stages this time around. The format will be similar to that used previously at the 1994 World Cup held in the USA. And it means that football fans can rejoice as there will now be an extra 20 matches of quality football to enjoy.

Amongst the qualifiers were England who managed to come through the qualifying stages with a chain of 10 straight wins, only the fourth side in history to do so. Current World cup holders Germany and Euro 2012 winners Spain also made it through to the finals with ease, each topping their particular group. Other group winners included Austria, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. Northern Ireland also managed to win their group and this will mark their first ever appearance in the continental tournament.

The group runner-up spots were claimed by Switzerland, Romania, Poland, Russia, and Croatia who also automatically proceed to the next stages. Four of the other runner-up spots were secured by Iceland, Wales, Albania and Slovakia, teams who have never previously competed at the Euros and will be making their debut next summer. Turkey qualified as the best third-placed team whilst Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and the Ukraine each won a play-off spot and will be heading to France next year.

Now we just sit back in anticipation for the draw on December 12…

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