The second of back-to-back matchdays in qualifying for Euro 2016 runs from Sunday to Tuesday. We look at what is at stake over the next three days.
Iceland are on the brink of making history and qualifying for a major tournament finals for the first time — after beating the Netherlands 1-0 in Amsterdam on Thursday, the island nation need only draw at home to a Kazakhstan side who have registered just one point so far in Group A.
The Czech Republic can join them if they win in Lithuania and the Netherlands fail to win in Turkey. “Let’s talk about facts, not ifs and maybes,” said a cautious Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrímsson as he warned against complacency. “If Turkey win their games, they can take top spot in the group, so we have to win against Kazakhstan on Sunday –- we are planning to do that and are focusing on it.”
History can also be made in Group B, where Wales will seal qualification for a major finals for the first time since 1958 if they can beat Israel in Cardiff. “There’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere, but we mustn’t get caught up in it because if you do that you stop thinking about what got you there in the first place,” warned Wales manager Chris Coleman.
In Group F, Northern Ireland can qualify for a first European Championship, and a first major tournament since 1986, by beating so far undefeated Hungary in Belfast on Monday. In addition, Austria, whose only previous finals appearance came as co-hosts in 2008, will be there from Group G if they draw in Sweden, or if Russia fail to win in Liechtenstein.
Elsewhere, Slovakia will be through to a first European Championship from Group C with a win against Ukraine.
World Cup holders Germany can clinch their finals berth from Group D if they win in Scotland and Ireland suffer an unlikely defeat at home to Georgia.
Switzerland would join England in qualifying from Group E with a win at Wembley combined with Estonia failing to win in Slovenia, and Portugal will be through from Group I if they win in Albania and Denmark lose in Armenia.
WHO IS IN TROUBLE?
After losing 1-0 at home to Iceland in their first game under new coach Danny Blind, the Netherlands face Turkey away in a huge game for both nations in qualifying Group A.
A defeat for the Dutch would leave them in fourth spot and would end their chances of finishing in the top two if the Czech Republic were to take anything in Latvia, seriously compromising their hopes of reaching the finals in France in the process. That said, the game in central Turkey is similarly crucial for the hosts, whose only wins so far have come against Kazakhstan.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s chances of appearing at a first European Championship finals are hanging by a thread after they lost 3-1 in Belgium last Thursday. Mehmed Bazdarevic’s side should see off Andorra in Zenica, but if Group B rivals Belgium win in Cyprus and section leaders Wales take something at home to Israel, the Bosnians will not be able to finish in the top two, leaving them probably having to settle for a play-off place at best.
In Group D, Scotland will be in huge trouble if they lose at home to Germany and Poland and Ireland win their respective games. That would leave Gordon Strachan’s side four points behind third-placed Ireland with two games to go. “I think we have to pick up something to make sure that everyone knows that we are still there. We are still in it so we have to get over the disappointment,” Strachan said after Friday’s demoralising defeat in Georgia.
England have already qualified so the focus when they face Switzerland at Wembley will be on whether Wayne Rooney can pass Bobby Charlton’s England record of 49 international goals after he equalled it on Saturday in the 6-0 win in San Marino that allowed Roy Hodgson’s side to secure qualification for next year’s finals in France.