After missing the past two major tournaments, Netherlands’ run to the Nations League final, combined with Ajax making the final four of last season’s Champions League, is undoubtedly to the benefit of the Euros. Ukraine were so good in qualifying that they forced their way into the top seeds, dumping France into pot two. Austria are reliant on maverick striker Marko Arnautovic, but have talent elsewhere in Marcel Sabitzer, Valentin Lazaro and David Alaba. Of the playoff teams competing to complete the group, Kosovo were such a joy to watch in qualifying that it’s hard not to root for them to reach their first major tournament.
There was moment deep in the second half when Cristiano Ronaldo went back into his own penalty area and began to bark out orders.
Rui Patricio, the Wolves goalkeeper, was lectured; so too was Portugal left-back Raphael Guerreiro. The hosts had just taken the lead in the Nations League final and the message from the man who has carried his country’s hopes and dreams was clear: this does not slip.
Ronaldo will never forget the pain he went through in 2004, when Portugal lost at home in the final of the European Championships to Greece, and it would be wrong to say that this new tournament carried the same kind of emotion and kudos.
The qualifying draw for Euro 2020 has been made and with any draw, some nations are much happier with their opponents than others.
After failing to qualify for World Cup, the Azzurri have been given a real chance of reaching this major tournament with Bosnia the only real threat in their group.
Manager Roberto Mancini was particularly happy to avoid Germany after his side were drawn in Group J, which also holds Finland, Greece, Armenia and Liechtenstein.
The quartet are already assured of a playoff spot and will be drawn the first position in Groups A–D to ensure they each have two dates free to play the Nations League Finals in June.
Holland scored twice in the last five minutes to recover from two goals down and earn a 2-2 draw against relegated Germany in the Nations League, thereby securing a spot in next year’s finals ahead of world champions France.
Virgil van Dijk struck a close-range volley in stoppage time to equalise for the visitors after Quincy Promes had cut the deficit in the 85th minute, with the Germans having led through early goals from Timo Werner and Leroy Sane.
Switzerland, England and hosts Portugal had already qualified for the four-team finals in June.
FIFPro, the worldwide players’ union, and FIFA have announced the 55 names in contention for the FIFA FIFPro World11 2018.
The FIFA FIFPro World11 is decided by the players, for the players and involves votes from almost 25,000 professional footballers from 65 different countries. During voting, they each select one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards.
This year’s list includes some familiar names, and standout statistics. Ten of last year’s World11 return to make the 55-man list, with Real Madrid the most-represented club side, seeing a full 11 players make the cut. Spain (nine) and France (eight) are the countries with the most players represented on the list.
In a big night of European World Cup qualifying, five of the nine group leaders closed in on Brazil with wins. Belgium, Italy and Germany all took a giant step towards Brazil, as did the Netherlands, despite being held to a shock draw in Estonia. Montenegro, who secured a useful point in Poland, were joined at the top of Group H by England, while Portugal, despite coming from behind to win in Northern Ireland, can still feel Russia breathing down their necks.
Spain won all three of their Group I games in the fall but with 21 minutes left trailed the Czech Republic in Granada. David Villa levelled the scores, moving him one ahead of Raúl’s record of 44 goals for Spain. Villa then converted a penalty to leave the world and European champions six points clear of the Czechs with four games each left.
“This is a great opportunity for us to bring many of our European-based players together as we continue to finalize our plans for the World Cup roster,” Bradley said. “This is the final match before we bring the team together for the World Cup, so to have a match against one of the top teams in the world like the Netherlands is a big benefit and a good challenge for our group. They are expecting a large crowd to turn out for the game, and we are looking forward to an exciting atmosphere in Amsterdam.”