Monthly Archives: October 2015

  1. Italy and Croatia Qualify for Euro 2016 with Strong Performances in Group H

    From Italy's undefeated performance to Croatia's last-minute leap into the second place slot, Group H was one of the more exciting chapters of the 2016 European Championship qualifying competition. Italy and Croatia qualify for Euro 2016 and will be headed to France next spring to compete in the prestigious UEFA tournament. Third-placers Norway, meanwhile, will look to win their seat in Euro 2016 with a strong playoff performance. Other group members-Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, and Malta-are headed home after failing to qualify.

    Italy's Surprise Success Streak

    To understand Italy's success story in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, we need to look back at last summer's 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Though that tournament ended with Germany's national soccer team winning their fourth WC title, surprises and upsets still abounded throughout. Three of the biggest and most respected football teams on the planet-Spain, Italy, and England-all

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  2. Spain Bounce Back with Strong Euro 2016 Qualifying Performance

    A year ago, it looked explicitly like the "golden age" of the Spanish national team football was over. The team had not only failed to defend their 2010 World Cup title, but they'd also performed so poorly in Brazil that they were eliminated from the 2014 World Cup after just two group stage matches. An early loss in the Euro 2016 qualifiers (a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Slovakia last October) extended the Red Fury's struggles into another high-profile international event. Since then, though, Spain have been almost bulletproof on the soccer pitch-at least in the moments when it truly counted. The squad lost a friendly against Germany last fall and another against Euro 2016 hosts France this past March, but the Spain bounce back has resulted in the squad winning eight straight Euro qualifying matches.

    The Spanish national football team ends the qualifying competition with nine wins, one draw, and 27 points. Those numbers not only give the Red Fury an easy win in Group C but also one

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  3. Gareth Bale, Kevin de Bruyne, and Eden Hazard the Stars of Euro Qualifying Group B

    On paper, Group B of the Euro 2016 qualifiers never seemed like one of the must-watch contests in the qualifying competition. The group had its share of good teams-Belgium and Wales are each currently ranked in FIFA's global top 10. However, the draw for the group was odd, with Bosnia and Herzegovina being the pot one draw, despite having never reached a European Championship tournament in the past. As a result, Group B didn't have a heavyweight team like Spain, England, Germany, or Italy to draw a lot of eyes, and was more or less regarded as one of the 'less interesting' groups in the competition. But what a mistake that was, the stars of Euro qualifying group B Bale, de Bruyne and Hazard elevated the group to one of the must watches of the competition.

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    Star-Making

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  4. The Netherlands Out Of Euro 2016: What Happened?

    The Netherlands national football team have featured heavily in nine of the last 10 European Championship tournaments. After first qualifying for the UEFA soccer event in 1976 (and finishing third), the Oranje made regular appearances. They failed to qualify in 1984 but bounced back to win their first title at Euro 1988. In 1992, 2000, and 2004, the Netherlands reached the semifinals. In 1996 and 2008, they went to the quarterfinals. 2012 was the first year since the Dutch Euro victory where the soccer team failed to go beyond the group stage. Now, after a dismal run in the qualifying competition it is confirmed that Netherlands out of Euro 2016, the Netherlands won't have a presence at UEFA's European Championship for the first time in 22 years.

    What Went Wrong?

    The big question swirling in all football circles-not just among Dutch soccer fans-is what went wrong? If someone were to predict a year when the Oranje's

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  5. Euro 2016 Qualifiers Austria Surprise with Terrific Performance

    Austria were never expected to be one of the most dominant nations involved in the qualifying competition for the 2016 European Championship. On the contrary, the Austria national football team were ranked 27th out of the 53 competitors in the qualifiers, back when the UEFA was seeding teams for the group stage draw. They were placed in pot three for the draw, which means that they were expected to finish third in their eventual group draw, Group G. Russia and Sweden were the group's pot one and pot two draws. But needless to say, in the Euro 2016 qualifiers Austria surprised everyone with their dominant performances.

    Upsets and Surprises

    Needless to say, Group G has proven to be a bundle of surprises over the past 13 months. First of all, Austria stunned all football pundits by not only winning the group but by going undefeated to do so. Indeed, with nine wins and one draw, Austria had the second best record

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  6. FIFA could Make or Break Barcelona's Attack—and their Season

    Guest Post. Written By Karl Matchett.

    Barcelona started the 2015-16 season in the best way possible, adding the UEFA Super Cup to last year's treble success and fuelling dreams of a six-pronged celebration as the new campaign continued. Athletic Bilbao soon put paid to those hopes by beating the Catalan side in the Spanish Super Cup, but of more pressing concern to Barcelona's longer-term plans for trophies would have been the incessant injury worries which began to decimate manager Luis Enrique's first team.

    As if the injuries alone weren't bad enough, the late sale of Pedro to Chelsea meant attacking options in particular were thin on the ground with Barça not able to register new signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal until January due to the Barcelona Home Shirt 2015 - 2016

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  7. Qualifying Group E: England and Switzerland Advance to Euro 2016 Finals

    It's official: the England national football team kept a perfect record in the qualifying rounds for the 2016 European Championship. The soccer squad seemed downtrodden when the qualifiers began last fall, having just recently suffered their worst-ever performance at the FIFA World Cup. But a year can make an awful lot of difference, and now, with the Euro 2016 qualifying competition officially on the books, the Three Lions are looking like genuine contenders to win the title next year in France. Lets take a look at how Group E played out as the results are in, and England and Switzerland advance to Euro 2016 finals.

    The Numbers and Figures

    England ends the qualifiers with a perfect record: 10 wins, zero draws, and zero losses. Not only did they finish as the top team in Group E, but also as the top team in the entire qualifying competition. Only one of the other 52 countries involved in the qualifiers even escaped undefeated:

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  8. European Championship 2016 Qualifying Group F: Upsets and Surprises Abound in Euro Qualifiers

    Among the qualifying groups for the 2016 European Championships, set to begin next June in France, Group F was always going to be something of a wildcard. Where other groups featured clear frontrunners like Spain, Germany, Italy, and England, European Championship 2016 qualifying Group F never had a clear dominant frontrunner. The group's pot one draw was Greece, a football team that won the European Championship back in 2004, but that hasn't seen much success since. The pot two draw, meanwhile, was Hungary, a team that we haven't seen in a Euro competition since the 1970s.

    Had UEFA's seeding ranks gone according to plan, Greece and Hungary would have gone one-two in Group F. For purposes of organizing the group stage draw, UEFA had ranked Greece at seventh among the tournament's 53 competing teams. Hungary, meanwhile, slotted in at 18th. Romania ended up as the group's pot three draw, with a seeding of 26th place. Finland (32), Northern Ireland (39), and Faroe

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  9. European Championship Qualification Group I: Portugal and Albania Advance to Euro 2016 Finals

    It is finalized Portugal and Albania advance to Euro 2016 finals, but what was the story of Group I, and how did this result come to be? The Portugal national football team qualified for their sixth consecutive Portugal 2014 World Cup Home ShirtEuropean Championship by winning qualifying Group I. The biggest question in the group's final weekend of play, though, was whether Albania or Denmark would snag the second qualifying slot. Both teams had similar records and point totals coming into the final weekend. Denmark had played seven of their eight matches, winning three, drawing three, and losing one, for a point tally of 12. Albania, meanwhile, had only played six of their eight games, scoring three wins, two draws, and one loss, for a point total of 11.

    Even with the similar point totals, and even with Albania having one extra

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  10. Germany and Poland Secure Euro 2016 Spot

    Of all of the groups in the qualifying competition for next year's European Championship in France, perhaps none were more competitive than Group D. Featuring a fierce competition between reigning World Cup champs Germany and an on-fire Poland national team-not to mention the two highest-scoring players in the entire qualifying competition-Group D was electrifying, but ultimately it was to be that Germany and Poland secure Euro 2016 spot.

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    The Group Standings

    Germany took the edge in the final group standings, finishing the qualifying competition with seven wins, one draw, and two losses-for a point total of 22. Poland, meanwhile, were one point behind, with fewer wins (6) and losses (1), but three draws.

    The Republic of Ireland

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