Six games to watch: September EURO 2020 qualifiers

Club football around most of Europe is back from its summer break, but now international action makes its Autumn return.

For the continent’s nations, EURO 2020 is slightly over nine months away, and every team is involved in competitive fixtures from Thursday to Tuesday across 10 groups.

Here are six games to watch during the September EURO 2020 qualifiers.


THURSDAY – GROUP D – REPUBLIC OF IRELAND VS SWITZERLAND

Kicking off our picks, tonight’s crucial qualifier could well set the Republic of Ireland on their way to another European Championships following a strong start to Group D, collecting 10 points from four games.

Their opponents, Switzerland, have played just twice and drew 3-3 in their last match against second-placed Denmark.

With Xherdan Shaqiri out for the visitors, Vladimir Petković will have to rely on their strong defensive unit made up of Yann Sommer, Kevin Mbabu, Nico Elvedi, Manuel Akanji, Fabian Schär and Ricardo Rodríguez to earn a positive away result.

ROI will be without Matt Doherty as Mick McCarthy looks to make it three wins from three home games back as boss, with Sheffield United duo David McGoldrick and Callum Robinson on form heading into the break.

It should be a tight affair, and they will meet again in just over a month’s time but both countries will know this encounter is vital to their qualification hopes.

FRIDAY – GROUP C: GERMANY VS NETHERLANDS (19:45)

In what will be Germany’s fourth and the Netherlands’s third game of this group, an age-old rivalry once again will be played-out for the fourth time in two years; after not meeting in the six years prior.

Germany are unbeaten in their six games since their Nations League group stage campaign and have scored 13 goals in their last three games, as Joachim Löw rebrands his squad for a new generation.

The Netherlands are also in a new era, as Ronald Koeman’s exciting young Oranjes come off a narrow Nations League final defeat this summer.

Shockingly, neither of these sides sit top of the group, with Northern Ireland boasting a perfect record in their four games.

However, these nations can both advance if they finish first and second respectively but know top spot will seed them higher in the EURO 2020 group stage draw.

The reverse fixture in Amsterdam was a spectacular game, with the Dutch coming back from two goals down, only for Nico Schulz to score a 90th-minute winner for the visitors.

In probably the standout tie of this break, it should be another cracker at Wolfsburg’s Volksparkstadion tomorrow evening.

SATURDAY – GROUP A: ENGLAND VS BULGARIA (17:00)

Having finished third in the Nations League finals back in June, England are looking to continue their perfect start in Group A this Saturday.

The Three Lions are the only side in their group who have played just two games, having scored 10 and conceded just once.

Sitting bottom of the group, Bulgaria will know that they may need to pull off a shock result in order to keep their qualification hopes alive.

Gareth Southgate is expected to name a strong starting XI at Wembley, with Kieran Trippier possibly returning to the side and fresh faces like Tyrone Mings and Mason Mount included in the squad, alongside the long-awaited call-up of James Maddison.

Kicking off just a few minutes after post-3pm EFL games, Saturday will certainly be just another day to watch football; even without the Premier League.

SATURDAY – GROUP B: SERBIA VS PORTUGAL (19:45)

After the aforementioned pick, there won’t be long before the remainder of Saturday matches get going.

Following a 1-1 Lisbon stalemate in March, Group B’s two strongest teams on paper meet again for what could be a six-pointer.

Serbia and Portugal met in the last EURO qualifiers as the current European champions won both matches and sit on 10 games unbeaten heading into this round

The Eagles, however, have scored in their last home games and took the lead in that reverse fixture through Dušan Tadić from the spot.

Their manager Ljubiša Tumbaković has stars such as Real Madrid’s Luka Jović, Lazio’s Sergej Milinković-Savić and Tadić at his disposal, alongside plenty of experienced men such as Aleksandar Kolarov, Nemanja Matić and Crystal Palace skipper Luka Milivojević.

The Nations League winners, although boasting the likes of João Cancelo, Bruno Fernandes, Rúben Neves, Bernardo Silva, and €126m wonderkid João Félix to name a few, have main man Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line for Fernando Santos’ side.

Ronaldo is off the mark in Serie A, and the 34-year-old hit a hat-trick in the Nations League semi-final before lifting the trophy four days later.

To carry on Saturday’s football fix, this promises to be an entertaining one.

 

SUNDAY – GROUP E: SWEDEN VS NORWAY (19:45)

In almighty 3-3 Oslo thriller for the reverse of this fixture, Sweden equalised in the 86th minute and took the lead in added time, but only for Josh King to strike in the 96th minute for Norway to earn a point.

That was a third consecutive draw between these Scandinavian sides and two points separate the hosts and visitors in second and fourth place respectively.

Spain are bossing the group due to four wins from four games, so one qualifying spot in realistically is up for grabs and this game.

Along with clashes against second-placed Romania for both these nations remaining, it could go a long way to deciding who makes it through.

Prior to the clash, they face the Faroe Islands and Malta respectively, which should both be another three points on the board ahead of this one.

Premier League talent in Victor Lindelöf, Emil Krafth (both Sweden), and Mohamed Elyounoussi and King (both Norway) are expecting to be on show, and could make for a spectacular Scanadavian Sunday.

 

MONDAY – GROUP G: POLAND VS AUSTRIA (19:45)

Despite winning none of his first six outings, Jerzy Brzęczek has Poland perfect so far in Group G, scoring eight and conceding zero; comfortably sitting top by five points.

Austria started with a duo of defeats but claimed two victories last time out and will be looking to do what the White and Red did to them in their own back yard earlier this year.

Krzysztof Piątek scored the only goal in Vienna with his first touch, and has scored four goals in eight caps.

Marko Arnautović, however, has four in this qualifying campaign alone for Franco Foda’s men, and the likes of David Alaba, Valentino Lazaro and Marcel Sabitzer all contribute to make Our Boys a force to reckoned with when on song.

In Warsaw, once they each play Slovenia and Latvia on Friday, the almost bordering nations will meet for a 10th time in national football, with Poland winning six, Austria’s three.

Finally, home record-holders Jakub Błaszczykowski (Brzęczek’s nephew) and Robert Lewandowski both sit on 106 caps – a Polish record – at the time of writing, and either could make history on the night, so watch out for some living legends.


What other games will be worth watching over this international break? Let us know!