The remaining four spaces at UEFA EURO 2020 will be decided on Thursday 12 November when eight teams line up in the four play-off finals.
Path A: Hungary vs Iceland (20:45 CET)
Two of UEFA EURO 2016’s surprise packages meet in Budapest. Iceland famously saw off England en route to the quarter-finals four years ago, and while the coach and some of the players have changed, the industry and efficiency that was their hallmark has not. Iceland’s semi-final win against Romania was much more comfortable than the 2-1 scoreline suggests.
Hungary also eased through the semis, brushing aside Bulgaria 3-1, and after a disappointing 2019 Marco Rossi’s side have hit a rich vein of form at just the right time. Victories over Turkey and Serbia, plus a draw in Russia, have raised hopes of a return to the stage where Hungary played perhaps the game of the tournament in 2016.
Slovakia have changed their coach since seeing off the Republic of Ireland on spot kicks last month, with Štefan Tarkovič taking temporary charge. Pavel Hapal departed after a run of only one win in nine matches, and two clean sheets in 14 – late goals have been their Achilles heel – but the team captained by 33-year-old Marek Hamšík were still a whisker away from automatic qualification.
Northern Ireland haven’t been tearing up trees either over the past 12 months, and are seven games without a win if their impressive penalty shoot-out triumph over Bosnia and Herzegovina is classed as a draw. That semi-final saw Ian Baraclough’s men introduce two late substitutes for the spot kicks – and both converted successfully. The dream of a repeat of UEFA EURO 2016 is alive.
Path C: Serbia vs Scotland (20:45 CET)
You have to go back to EURO ’96 for the last time Scotland were at the finals – is a 25-year wait almost over? Steve Clarke’s side are certainly shaping up well, overcoming Israel in the semis and riding the crest of a wave that means they come into this fixture eight matches unbeaten, their longest such streak since the mid-80s.
Scotland have been close before though, and in Serbia they face an inconsistent team that are, on their day, a match for anyone. The Serbians succeeded where so many have failed recently and kept Erling Braut Haaland quiet in the last four, while Sergej Milinković-Savić and Aleksandar Mitrović are beginning to click.
Georgia have proved a tough nut to crack in recent years and neither Denmark nor Ireland…
Read More:EURO 2020 play-off finals: preview