The international break gives us the perfect opportunity to assess the chances of the Home Nations ahead of another round of fixtures over the coming week as sides jostle for a place at next summer’s European Championships.
England made huge strides towards automatic qualification last month with high-scoring wins over Bulgaria and Kosovo, while Wales also managed a win-double with victories against Belarus and Azerbaijan to keep themselves in the hunt.
Northern Ireland surrendered top-spot with defeat at the hands of 2014 World Cup winners Germany at Windsor Park in September, while Scotland suffered a damaging double-defeat at the hands of Russia and Belgium.
So here’s a look at what it all means going into the latest round of qualification games…
Position in Group A: 1st with 12 points
Gareth Southgate’s men look a certainty to qualify for the Euros next summer after they extended their 10-year unbeaten record in qualifying for major championships with convincing wins over Bulgaria and Kosovo.
England now hold a three-point lead over their nearest rivals, the Czech Republic, who they face this weekend, not to mention a four-point advantage over Kosovo, with a game in hand over their Group A rivals.
The Three Lions have three group games remaining, and two victories from their next two fixtures will all but guarantee a place at Euro 2020 without the anguish of having to qualify via the playoffs.
Position in Group I: 5th with 6 points
Steve Clarke’s Scotland side have all but given-up on securing an automatic playoff berth with successive defeats to Belgium and Russia meaning they are now nine points behind second-placed Russia.
With only four group games remaining to play catch-up, thankfully Steve Clarke’s men have, at least earned a spot in the play-off round by virtue of winning their UEFA Nations League group last year, and this may be their only realistic route to Euro 2020 now.
The one-off semi-final and potential final remains Scotland’s best opportunity of qualifying for their first major tournament since the World Cup of 1998 with Clarke even admitting himself that the best they can hope for his third in the group after being beaten 4-0 by Belgium.
Position in Group E: 5th with six points
Wales find themselves outside of the qualification spots but at least know they have a game in hand as they look to close the relatively narrow gap between them and the Euro 2020 qualifying places
Ryan Giggs’s side are three points behind Slovakia and Hungary, who are tied in second and third place respectively, and both boast slightly better goal differences but Wales now the situation is still in their hands.
A win over Slovakia on Thursday will see them leapfrog their rivals into either second or third before they welcome Croatia to Cardiff on Saturday; knowing that if they fail to win that one, wins over Azerbaijan and Hungary are a must if they are to qualify.
Position in Group C: 2nd with 12 points
Northern Ireland’s 2-0 defeat to Germany last time out means Group C is wide open and, although Michael O’Neill’s side have relinquished top spot for the first time in qualifying, with three games left they know their fate is still in their hands.
The Boys in Green are three points clear of Holland in third, who have a game in hand on the other sides in the group. However, Northern Ireland face back-to-back qualifiers against Ronald Koeman’s side, before the trip to Germany for their final qualifier.
O’Neill will be aware that four points from the two games against the Dutch would secure their spot in next summer’s Euros, while one victory from the double-header would mean needing to get a result in Germany to definitely secure their place.
How qualifying for Euro 2020 works
There are 10 qualifying groups, each of five and six teams, with the top two countries from each going through to Euro 2020 automatically as 24 teams in total compete in the finals next summer – the final qualifying fixtures take place on 17-19 November 2019.
There are no play-offs after these qualifying groups for third place. Instead, the 16 countries who won their respective groups in the Nations League have the safety net of at least a play-off place if they fail to make the top two with England and Scotland being among those teams.
If some of those teams qualify directly for Euro 2020, then the next best team in their Nations League tier who did not qualify automatically themselves take their play-off place.
Euro 2020 qualification fixtures
Thursday October 10th
Friday October 11th
Sunday October 13th
Monday October 14th
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