It’s a year since the 2022 World Cup kicked off, and now it’s time for qualifying for the next major tournament to conclude as we see who will be playing at the Euros in Germany next summer.
We haven’t seen too many surprises in the standings with all of the nations that fans would usually consider to be favourites earning qualification.
As the hosts we know Germany will be there automatically, and they will be looking for redemption after their last three major tournaments ended in disappointment. Germany won the 2014 World Cup, but since then have crashed out in the group stage or last 16 of their last two World Cups and the 2020 Euros.
Spain, France, England, Belgium and Portugal all join them as group winners, while Italy and Netherlands are through as runners-up in their groups.
Portugal had a perfect record winning all of their games to take maximum points, while England also went undefeated.
Regarding the Dutch I watched them play against Ireland and understood the philosophy of attacking and trying to score the early goal. They tried to use the attacking energy of Simons and Ghakpo, supported by the late runs forward of Reijnders. That made the middle of the park a little vulnerable, and for the opponent to explore. It will be interesting to see when De Jong is back and if he will play with Reijendeers knowing a real ball-winner will be needed to keep the balance in his team so that Holland gets to be more in control of the speed of the game.
All of these teams will consider themselves in the running to lift the trophy next year, and it’s going to be interesting to see which players from those countries hit form over the winter and spring for their clubs, so they can take that momentum into the tournament.
One team that will be excited about the tournament is Albania, who topped their group and will be competing in just their second ever euros. It’s always great to see these teams win qualifiaction, because with the some of the so called bigger nations qualification is expected and anything less is seen as failure, but you could see the celebrations of the Albanian players and fans shows how much it means to the nation.