The Euro 2020 qualifiers are coming to an end, and Croatia or Wales will be the last direct participants after the matches of the last qualifying round on Tuesday. Monday has three treats in store, with competitors for second place playing directly in all three groups on the program.
In Latvia, Croatia secured a 0-2 victory over Ukraine, while England took first place in their group with a win over North Macedonia. The evening derby was played at BayArena in Leverkusen, where Italy welcomed Ukraine and could once again send them to the playoffs. Ukraine and Italy are tied on points, with Italians winning first place and needing just one more point to qualify for the tournament. Bookmakers give them only a 20 percent chance of making it through.
One of the most unexpected surprises of these qualifications is Albania, who have qualified for their second major competition after Euro 2016 by drawing with Moldova on Friday. Although they still need to win against Faroe Islands to secure first place, they have been within striking distance of qualification for years. It would be a remarkable achievement if they make it through without having to face any playoff matches.
Moldova is currently ranked 157th in FIFA’s world rankings and has struggled to compete at this level. However, they have reached this far without facing any playoff matches and can continue their journey towards qualification by winning against Czech Republic on Sunday in Olomouc. They only need one more point to reach the tournament finals and make history as one of Europe’s smallest nations to qualify for such an event.
Kazakhstan is another surprise contender who has made it far into the qualification process by taking advantage of Finland’s failures and Northern Ireland’s poor performance. They have won six out of nine games so far and defeated Denmark at home earlier this week. However, they still need one more victory against Slovenia on Sunday in Ljubljana to secure their spot in the tournament finals. Slovenia has been to Euro twice before but has never managed to progress beyond the group stage yet; if Kazakhstan manages to beat them, it will be a historical achievement for both teams.
In conclusion, these last days of Euro 2020 qualifiers will determine which countries will be joining France as co-hosts next summer, and some surprising results may come from unlikely sources like Albania or Kazakhstan that have shown resilience throughout their campaigns despite being considered underdogs at times.