Euro 2020 Qualifiers, Matchday 5 Preview: Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, England seek to continue perfect record
Following the first 24-team Euros in 2016, Euro 2020 will also have the same number of teams, comprising six groups of four teams each.
However, in a first, the 2020 Euro finals will be a multi-country affair, with a pre-determined pair of six different host cities for the respective groups.
In another first, there will be no automatic qualifying berths for host countries. That means all the 55 UEFA member nations enter 10 qualifying groups - five groups of five countries and another five groups of six countries each. All the 10 group winners and runner-ups from qualifiers would qualify automatically for the finals.
The 16 winners of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, clubbed into four groups of four teams each, would contest single-leg semifinals and finals in their respective groups, to determine the four remaining places in the competition proper.
Qualification for Euro 2020 commenced in March this year. A total of 315 goals have been scored in 100 games across four matchdays.
Qualifying resumes this week (5th to 7th September 2019) with Matchday-5 qualifiers, where 50 of the 55 teams would be in action. Here is a brief preview of the various matches across the groups on Matchday-5:
5 September 2019
#1 Group D: Republic of Ireland (10 pts) vs Switzerland (4 pts)
Ireland have 8 wins and 5 losses in 16 previous meetings with Switzerland but have won 2 and lost 3 of their 8 competitive fixtures with the Alpine nation.
In their last group games, Ireland beat Gibraltar 2-0 in Dublin while Switzerland split points with Denmark after a 3-3 draw in Basel.
#2 Group D: Gibraltar (0 pts) vs Denmark (5 pts)
Denmark, the third unbeaten team in Group D, travel to Gibraltar on matchday-5. This would be the first meeting between the two sides.
The 1992 Euro winners would be highly favored to take all three points against Gibraltar, who are yet to open their account and score a goal after 3 games.
In their last group games, Denmark beat Georgia 5-1 in Copenhagen and Gibraltar lost 2-0 against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.
#3 Group F: Romania (7 pts) vs Spain (12 pts)
Spain would look to extend their perfect start in qualifying to five wins out of five when they play Romania in Bucharest on matchday-5. Claudio Keseru of Romania, with 5 goals, is the top scorer in the group.
Spain have 5 wins and 3 losses from their 12 previous competitive meetings with Romania.
In their last group games on matchday-4, Spain beat Belgium 3-0 in Madrid and Romania drew 2-2 with Norway in Oslo.
#4 Group F: Norway (5 pts) vs Malta (3 pts)
Fourth-placed Norway welcome fifth-placed Malta to Oslo in a game both sides need to win, to stay within touching distance of group leaders Spain.
Norway have beaten Malta in each of the six previous competitive meetings between the pair.
In their last games on matchday-4, Norway beat Faroe Islands 2-0 in Torshavn and Malta lost 0-4 to Romania in Ta'Qali.
#5 Group F: Faroe Islands (0 pts) vs Sweden (7 pts)
Second-placed Sweden travel to Torshavn where they face winless hosts Faroe Islands who are yet to open their account. The Swedes would be favoured to take all three points against the bottom-placed team in their group and close the gap on section leaders Spain.
The Nordic nation have won both of their previous competitive fixtures with Faroe Islands.
In their last group games on Matchday-4, Sweden lost 0-3 to Spain in Madrid and Faroe Islands lost 0-2 against Norway in Torshavn.
#6 Group G: Israel (7 pts) vs North Macedonia (4 points)
Second-placed Israel welcome fifth-placed North Macedonia to Beersheba on matchday-5.
Israel have won three and lost one of their four previous competitive games with Macedonia.
In their previous group games on matchday-4, Israel lost 0-4 to Poland in Warsaw and North Macedonia lost 1-4 to visiting Austria in Skopje.
Eran Zahavi of Israel is the top-scorer in Euro 2020 qualifying, with seven goals.
#7 Group J: Armenia (6 pts) vs Italy (12 pts)
Third-placed Armenia welcome section leaders Italy to Yerevan on Matchday-5. The Italians have won all four of their group games, scoring 13 goals and conceding just one.
The Azzurri have one win and one draw from two previous competitive games against Armenia (2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers).
In their last group games on matchday-4, Armenia beat Greece 3-2 in Athens and Italy beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-1 in Turin.
#8 Bosnia and Herzegovina (4 pts) vs Liechtenstein (0 pts)
The two bottom-placed teams in Group J square off in Zenica where Bosnia and Herzegovina play host to visiting Liechtenstein, who are yet to open their account.
Bosnia have won all four of their previous competitive meetings with Liechtenstein.
In their last group games, Bosnia lost 1-2 to Italy in Turin and Liechtenstein were beaten 0-2 while visiting Finland in Vaduz.
#9 Finland (9 pts) vs Greece (4 pts)
Second-placed Finland would strive to close the gap on section leaders Italy when they welcome Greece to Tampere on matchday-5.
Finland have won 5 and lost 6 times in their 14 previous competitive meetings with Greece.
In their last group games on matchday-4, Finland beat Liechtenstein 2-0 in Vaduz and Greece lost 2-3 in Athens to Armenia.