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Can all four home nations qualify for Euro 2016?

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With the half-way stage passed in the qualification stage of the 2016 Euros, all four home nations will fancy their chances of getting to the tournament proper. Other than England, a home nation hasn’t qualified for a major tournament since 1998, but now it looks like England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could all qualify for next summer’s tournament.

England would have expected to win their group when the draw was made, and they have made light work of opening up a six point gap between themselves and second place Switzerland, after beating Slovenia 3-2 on Sunday. With the top two qualifying automatically, England are likely to have to win just one of their remaining four games in order to get out of the group. Three Lions manager Hodgson will now have his eyes set on a perfect qualification record, with Switzerland and Estonia still to play at home and easy looking trips to Lithuania and San Marino still to come. England are one of only two teams to still have a 100% record in qualifying, the other being Slovakia.

When Wales started their qualifying campaign, few would have expected them to still be unbeaten after six games. However, that is the position the Welsh find themselves in, leading second placed Belgium by three points following their win against them in the latest round of games. More importantly, with just four games to go they find themselves five points clear of Israel. Wales next face Cyprus away before a crucial game against Israel at home. They finish off their campaign against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Andorra, and if star players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey can continue their good from, manager Chris Coleman will be confident of guiding his Welsh team to a first major tournament since 1958.

Northern Ireland were handed a tough draw, with Greece, Romania, Hungary, Finland and Romania all being drawn in their group. However, Michael O’Neil’s team have made a fantastic start to their campaign. They are currently second in their group, a point behind leader’s Romania and two points clear of third place Hungary. Northern Ireland play the Faroe Islands and Hungary next, followed by Greece and Finland. If the Irish can win their next two games qualification will almost be assured, and even if they fail to finish in the top two they may have already done enough to secure a play-off spot.

Scotland haven’t been to an international tournament since 1998 but they will be hoping that they will be part of 2016 to end their 18 year exile. The Scots currently sit third in their group but only trail group leaders Poland by three points. However, with Germany also two points ahead of them, qualification from the group, or even a play-off spot, are not yet assured. They secured a crucial draw with the Republic of Ireland at the weekend to stay two points clear of them and remain in the play-off spot. Their next game is against Georgia, before they face Germany away and Poland at home in two crucial qualifiers. If they perform well in these, they will be confident of qualification, as they then have the luxury of playing group minnows Gibraltar in their final game.

Out of the four teams, England look the most likely to qualify having almost secured qualification. Wales will be also be strong favourites to finish in the top two of their group and will be looking to get the job done as soon as possible. For Scotland and Northern Ireland, automatic qualification is still very much possible. However, they should be wary of entering the play-offs, for as it stands they could face the Netherlands, Norway, Russia or Switzerland, who would all provide a real challenge.


Home Nations Northern Ireland scotland wales

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