1. Reviewing the Euro 2020 Qualifying Draw

    After the nail biting performance of the national teams during the international tournament earlier this year, the run up to release of the Euro 2020 schedules were greatly anticipated by fans worldwide. Therefore as earlier this week the fixtures and groupings for the UEFA European Championships Qualifiers 2020 were announced, we thought we would put this article together for our readers. This blog therefore covers how the groups have been drawn and who are expected to be the ones to beat.

    What the Euro 2020 Qualifying Groups Look Like

    In advance of the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, the qualifiers are to take place in order to determine which 24 teams advance to the Championship. The qualifying tournament runs in addition to the brand new 2018/19 UEFA Nations Cup, which offers an alternative route to qualification for the 2020 tournament. Here is the breakdown of each country that is eligible for a place in the upcoming games and who they are playing against in their groups:

    • Group A – England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo
    • Group B – Portugal, Ukraine, Serbia, Lithuania, Luxemburg
    • Group C – Netherlands, Germany, Northern Ireland, Estonia, Belarus
    • Group D – Switzerland, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Georgia, Gibraltar
    • Group E – Croatia, Wales, Slovakia, Hungary, Azerbaijan
    • Group F – Spain, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Faroe Islands, Malta
    • Group G – Poland, Austria, Israel, Slovenia, FYR Macedonia
    • Group H – France, Iceland, Turkey, Albania, Moldova, Andorra
    • Group I – Belgium, Russia, Scotland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, San Marino
    • Group J – Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein

    Previous Winners of the Euros Championship

    Established in 1960, the UEFA Euros is going into their 15th tournament during 2020. This means that there have been a range of winners who have already fought vali

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  2. Everything You Need to Know About the Nations League 2018/19

    At the moment the national teams are currently battling it out on the football pitch to win the new Nations League trophy. And with the extra bonus of four places in the Euro tournament in two years’ time up for grabs, the anticipation to succeed in Nations League is high.

    As this is a very new tournament we wanted to put this post together to cover all of the need to know information about the ongoing games. From how the season is scheduled to who are the strongest teams so far, read below to find out all the latest info.

    What is the Nation’s League?

    The Nations League was first set-up in 2018 as an alternative way for national teams to acquire a place in the Euros, and replaced the current friendly matches for competition matches. This series of matches will take place every two years on the run-up to the next European league tournament.

    How the Nations League works is that all 55 national teams will be split into 4 leagues depending on their skill levels and successes. By having these matches tiered this way, it will make the games much fairer between the teams as they will be against similar performing clubs. Therefore, this eliminates any mishap with higher ranking teams pitted against lower ones.

    Then within these leagues they are split again into groups of 3 and 4. From here each country plays at home and away with their assigned competition. These matches have been scheduled to take place in September, October and November 2018.

    When the winners of each group have been decided, the top teams in B, C and D will be promoted and the lowest in A, B and C will be demoted. From here the clubs will play again until June 2019 where the top 4 teams from league A will fight for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place.

    Impact on Euro 2020

    In addition to establishing the top 4 teams in the Nations League, this tournament also gives the opportunity of 4 countries to win a p

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  3. FIFA World Cup 2018 - Inspired by Past Successes

    8th December 2017.
    In anticipation of Russia 2018 next summer, a host of new soccer jerseys are being released for the team's that have secured qualification. German sportswear manufacturer Adidas has got ahead of the game, and began launching shirts toward the end of 2017. The FIFA World Cup 2018 Adidas football shirts released to date are all home edition jerseys, and the designs embody the strengths, passions and heritage of each nation involved, with a clearly retro look. Below we take a look at some of the Adidas 2018 World Cup kits launched so far.

    Argentina 2018 World Cup Home Kit

    The advertising campaign launching the Argentina home kit for the 2018 World Cup was fronted by the infamous Lionel Messi. Messi, one of the greatest footballers to have ever graced a soccer field, and an icon in the history of Argentinian football, has never won a major trophy with his country. This disparity, in an otherwise unblemished career, is clearly referenced with the design of the Argentina 2018 home shirt.

    Adidas has taken inspiration from team's 1993 Copa America jersey, winning that tournament marks the last big trophy won by the Argentine national team, you have to go back to 1986 for their most recent World Cup victory. Wearing a shirt based on the 1993 design, can Messi tick off 'World Cup Title' from his bucket list of footballing achievements? At the age of 31, and having already professed retirement once, 2018 is likely his last outing at a FIFA World Cup tournament, and his last opportunity to lift the trophy.

    The base of the 2018 World Cup Argentina home shirt is white, and features three sky blue vertical stripes on the front. The stripes truly reflect a slightly cloudy sky as the blue is tinged with fluffy white accents. The Argentina crest sits on the right with the Adidas logo opposite, three black stripes adorn the shoulders. The deep v-shaped neckline is edged with wide-white trim squaring off the central stripe.

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  4. What Legacy Will Erik Hamren Leave as Sweden Coach?

    On February 1st, the news broke that Erik Hamren would be stepping down from his position as head coach of the Sweden national football team. The good news for fans of the coach is that his exit won't be immediate. Hamren will stay on as the manager of the Swedish soccer squad until after this summer's European Championship in France.

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    A Long Time Coming?

    So far, there is no word about who might replace Erik as Sweden's coach-either in the form of official statements or major rumors. However, most soccer pundits will probably posit Hamren's departure as an event that was a long time coming. The 58-year-old Swedish-born manager took over the role as Sweden's manager in 2009, taking the baton from former coach Lars Lagerback.

    According to ESPN FC, Hamren has been under a lot of pressure from Swedish football officials since his team failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It makes sense that such pressure could take a toll. Add the fact that Erik is in his seventh year as Sweden's head coach, and a major tournament like Euro 2016 seems like the natural coda for his time with the team.

    A Winning Record

    The question is, what kind of legacy will Erik Hamren leave behind as the manager of the Sweden national football team?

    Largely, the answer to that question will be determined by the team's performance at Euro 2016. So far, Hamren has kept a respectable record while coaching the Blue-Yellow. His Swedish squads have won 43 of their 74

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  5. Living the Dream The Career of John Guidetti

    By Edward Stratmann.
    It was never going to be easy for Celta Vigo to replace the towering Joaquin Larrivey, who jetted off to the riches of the UAE Pro League to play for Baniyas. For any incumbent, matching the Argentine hitman's 11 La Liga goals last season was always going to be a tall order. But in John Guidetti, the Galician outfit appear to have found the perfect replacement.

    While Celta's enigmatic manager, Eduardo Berizzo, a Marcelo Bielsa disciple, has preferred to use the Swedish international off the bench this season, 16 times he's come on as a substitute, 2016 has seen him already hand Guidetti three starts. And the man who scored his debut goal for the club against Barcelona in Celta's astonishing 4-1 win back in August, when coming off the bench, certainly hasn't let his manager down.

    Guidetti's repaid Berizzo's faith in the best possible way, for in those three starts the former Manchester City prospect has scored a remarkable five goals to take his season tally to seven in all competitions.

    There is a slight caveat here, however, with three of those goals coming against Cadiz, a Segunda Division B side. But nonetheless, he still had the necessary quality to find the net, which ensured Berizzo had the confidence to give him a start for Celta's La Liga game with Levante.

    From the outset, his magnificent movement and positioning laid the foundation for what was a brilliant performance from the 23-year-old. His exemplary finishing ability unquestionably helped too.

    In fact, his propensity to precisely time his forward runs was vital in all three of La Celeste's goals that arrived while he was on the pitch.

    Prior to his 35th minute opener, he'd constantly threatened the Levante backline with his speed and cleverly timed runs. But when this opportunity arrived, Guidetti was ready. With Jonny Otto, Fabian Orellana and Iago Aspas combining nicely down the right, once Guidetti saw the latter steaming into the box,

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  6. Euro 2016 Group Stage Predictions

    The 2016 UEFA European Championship won't get underway until June 10th of next year. As of early December, though, the group stage draws for the tournament are set. With 24 teams spread across six groups, which countries will rise and which will fall in the first round of this prestigious football tournament? Read on to check out our predictions for each of the six groups.

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    The Group: A
    The Teams: France, Romania, Albania, Switzerland
    The Likely Outcome: France are the natural frontrunners here. In addition to being the tournament hosts, France are also the only soccer team in this group that have won a previous European Championship title-let alone two. France won in both 1984 (also at a tournament they hosted) and 2000 and have had a fairly solid year, friendly-wise. Romania went undefeated in the qualifiers but picked up five draws out of their 10 matches. If there's a threat here, it could be Albania, a Euro debutante team that won a friendly against France in June. Don't discount Switzerland, though: they scored more goals in the qualifiers (24) than Romania and Albania combined (21).

    The Group: B
    The Teams: England, Russia, Wales, Slovakia
    The Likely Outcome: This one seems fairly cut and dried. England, fresh off a perfect 10-game winning streak in the qualifying rounds, should win the draw handily. Russia have the next highest seeding (and the most Euro experience, with 10 previous tournaments under their belts), but the likely second-place team is Wales. Another debutante team, the Welsh soccer squad have the passion and hunger that Russia don't right now. Plus, they've got Gareth Bale.

    The Group: C
    The Teams: Germany,

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  7. Euro 2016 Lineup Officially Confirmed

    Since September 7th, 2014-less than two months after the conclusion of last year's World Cup-we have been watching and wondering about the qualifiers for the 2016 UEFA European Championship. Now, with the conclusion of the final playoff games on November 17th, the qualifiers are officially over, and the Euro 2016 lineup officially confirmed.

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    The Teams and Seeds

    As always, the Euro qualifiers allowed room for eight teams to battle for second chances at reaching the final tournament. The top two teams from each qualifying group qualified directly for Euro 2016, as did the third-place team with the highest point total. (This year, the top-ranking third-place team was Turkey.) The remaining eight third-placers, meanwhile, earned spots in the playoff round.

    The eight teams were drawn into four pairings of two, based on UEFA seeding. The seeding compiled data from the UEFA national team coefficient rankings, which themselves were impacted based on the performances of different football teams in the main qualifying competition. Based on those stats, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Sweden, and Hungary were the "seeded" teams, while Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Norway, and Slovenia were unseeded.

    For the most part, the playoff match-ups worked out more or less as the UEFA had seeded them. Hungary, Sweden, and the Ukraine all earned spots at Euro 2016.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Republic of Ireland

    Bosnia and Herzegovina, a soccer squad that the UEFA has repeatedly overrated throughout the qualifying campaign, was the only "seeded" team to miss, losing their two-leg battle with the Republic of Ireland. The first leg of the contest-a November 13th

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  8. The Euro 2016 Playoff: Which Four Teams Will Be Heading to the Finals?

    The qualifying group stage competition for the 2016 European Championship may have wrapped up on Tuesday, October 13th, but the battle isn't over just yet. Sure, 20 of the 24 teams that will make up the UEFA's big tournament next summer have already been decided. The remaining four slots, meanwhile, will be decided in a playoff between the third-placed football squads from each of the qualifying groups. That contest is set to begin on November 12th.

    The Competing Teams

    The question is, which four countries will be filling those last four slots? The third-placed teams from the Euro 2016 qualifiers include Turkey, Hungary, Ukraine, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovakia. Turkey have already qualified for the 2016 European Championship, on the basis of being the third-place team with the best record in the qualifiers. The other eight teams, meanwhile, will battle one another for a chance to compete in France next summer.

    UEFA have already gone ahead and seeded the eight remaining teams for the playoffs. Seeding positions are decided based on the UEFA's national team coefficient ranking system. The coefficient system takes three factors into account, looking at how countries performed in the Euro 2016 qualifying competition, the qualifiers and final tournament for the 2014 World Cup, and the 2012 European Championship qualifiers and final football tournament.

    Based on these coefficient rankings, the national football squads from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Sweden, and Hungary are the favorites to progress to Euro 2016. Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Norway, and Slovenia are the "unseeded" pot two teams.

    Coefficient Rankings: Do They Matter?

    The question is, do UEFA's coefficient rankings actually matter? Can we reasonably expect the four "seeded"

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  9. 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 of any team in the qualifiers. Only England, who won all of their games, came out of the qualifying group stage with a higher point tally.

    The Austrian soccer squad had, prior to this year, never qualified for Euro via the traditional qualifying round channels. The team earned automatic qualification in 2008, when they shared hosting duties with Switzerland but have otherwise missed out on all 14 European Championships. In comparison, Russia participated in Euro in 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012. Sweden, meanwhile, had a presence at Euro in 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012.

    Austria benefited from the bottom half of Group G being made up of fairly weak teams. The group's pot four, five, and six draws were Montenegro, Moldova, and Liechtenstein, respectively. After drawing their first qualifying game with Sweden last September, the Austrians were able to build confidence with back-to-back wins against Moldova and Montenegro. Once Austria had scored an upset victory against Russia

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  10. The 2015 UEFA European Under 21 Championship: A Preview of Saturday's Semifinals

    It may not garner the attention or press coverage of the regular European Championship, the World Cup, or even the Copa America, but the 2015 UEFA European Under 21 Championship does provide some interesting insight on the up-and-coming talent of European football. Therefore, if you want to get a glimpse at the soccer stars of tomorrow ahead of everyone else, you might want to tune into Saturday's under-21 Euro semifinal matches. Here's what to expect.

    Semifinal Match 1: Portugal vs. Germany

    The first semifinal match on Saturday will be played between the winners of Group B (Portugal) and the runners-up from Group A (Germany). The Portuguese side will be playing in the "home team" position, while the Germans will be donning their away kits.

    This match should be an exciting one to watch, since Portugal and Germany performed similarly during the group stage. The German side, though widely predicted to win Group A, underperformed somewhat during their first three games of the tournament. They only scored one win (a 3-0 victory against Denmark), and sputtered to 1-1 draws against both Serbia and the Czech Republic host team. Ironically, Denmark won Group A and the other two teams were eliminated.

    The Portuguese squad was similarly unspectacular in the group stage, and currently has the same one win, and two draw record that the Germans do. They did score a satisfying victory against England in their first game of the tournament, donning the Portugal football shirt for a 1-0 win over the under 21 England team. But a scoreless draw against Italy and a 1-1 stalemate with Sweden put Portugal at the top of Group B more by default than by skill.

    So which side will find victory on Saturday? Portugal technically has the advantage, given their group stage win and their "home field" advantage. But the German side actually have the better statistics at this juncture-they finish the group

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