Euro 2016 Qualifying Groups Drawn


Paulo BentoUEFA announced the other day the qualifying groups for Euro 2016. Portugal were drawn with Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, and Albania. Portugal will be wary of facing Denmark and Albania again, having had trouble with the two in previous qualifying campaigns.

It is worth noting that qualification for Euro 2016 will be much easier than in previous tournaments. Euro 2016 will be the first European championship where the number of participating teams is 24, having been expanded from 16 in 2012. This translates into the top two teams in each group qualifying directly, while the third-place in each group qualifies for a playoff.

Portugal faced Denmark in qualification for the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. The Danes proved to be worthy opponents, topping the group each time, and forcing Portugal to qualify via the play-off. In the four times Portugal and Denmark met in the two qualifying phases, Denmark won 2, Portugal won 1, and the teams drew once. It is evident that Denmark is not a team to take lightly. Though their momentum has slowed as of late (the team failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup), Denmark still packs a punch.

Serbia is another team that has the potential to cause problems for Portugal in qualification. Combining proven stars like Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandar Kolorov, Nemanja Matic, and Adem Ljajic with up-and-coming talents such as Lazar Markovic, Milos Jojic, and Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia is also not a team to be taken lightly. The Serbia U-19 team was victorious last summer at the 2013 UEFA U-19 European Championships, and a few of the players from that tournament have made the move to the full national team. This mix of established, world-class stars and up-and-coming youngsters give Serbia an air of unpredictability. Though they have fallen short in recent qualification tournaments (the last tournament they qualified for was the 2010 World Cup), Serbia are a much different team now.

Armenia are somewhat of an unknown entity. Armenia is a small country of barely over three million inhabitants, bordered by Iran, Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The team has never qualified for a major tournament, and, frankly, has hardly ever come anywhere close to qualifying. That is, until the 2014 World Cup. Armenia was drawn with Italy, Czech Republic, Malta, Bulgaria, and Denmark. The team started off slowly, losing to Bulgaria, Italy, Czech Republic, and Malta, but absolutely stunned Denmark, winning 4-0 in Denmark. The team then managed to defeat Bulgaria and Czech Republic before rounding off their campaign with a 2-2 draw in Italy. Though Armenia didn’t come very close to qualifying, they turned some heads with their impressive performances against Denmark and Italy, two of Europe’s top sides.

Portugal last met Albania in 2010 World Cup qualification, and though the team did not offer much competition, the Seleccao still only managed two draws (including one last-gasp 2-2 draw to keep their qualification hopes alive). Portugal tend to play down to their opponents level, which is why the team has had problems with Albania in the past. If the Seleccao can manage to play well, Albania should be no match.

Portugal Drawn in Group of Death


Euro 2012

Group B

Portugal-Netherlands-Germany-Denmark

With the qualification stage completed for Euro 2012, it was time to see how the teams in the tournament itself would be divided. The group stage draw happened on Friday, and Portugal were drawn in one of the hardest European Championship groups they have ever been in. Germany, Netherlands, and Denmark all join the Seleccao in Group B. You heard me. Germany AND the Netherlands. The average world ranking for our group? 6. The Netherlands and Germany currently sit at 2nd and 3rd, respectively, while Denmark is not too far behind at 11. Now, if we were to take a look at Group A, we would see that their average world ranking is 32. Poland is not even in the top fifty, while Czech Republic isn’t in the upper thirty. Needless to say, these groups are not even, but regardless, Portugal have a difficult group on their hands. The team undoubtedly has the talent to vanquish Denmark, and possibly the Netherlands, but Germany will be a different story.

 

2014 World Cup Qualification Groups Drawn


FIFA announced earlier this week the qualification groups for the 2014 World Cup, slated to be held in Brazil. Portugal drew a seemingly easy group with Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, and Luxembourg. This group seems easier than the ones in the immediate past, but, as we have learned, Portugal has a knack of making a mess of things. Hopefully, under Paulo Bento, those days are over. Russia will be the most likely to give the team a run for their money, and Israel has an outside chance of doing just the same.

2014 World Cup Qualification Groups Drawn


The qualification draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup was today, and Portugal have been drawn in a slightly difficult group. Portugal were drawn in Group 6 alongside Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, and Luxembourg. This group may not seem very hard, but Russia may give us a run for our money.

Russia’s squad performed well at Euro 2008, but since has not lived up to those performances, failing to qualify for last summer’s World Cup. Russia will look to Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin and Tottenham’s Roman Pavlyuchenko for any attacking flair, while their leading midfielder, Konstantin Zyryanov, is getting on in years, currently at 33. Israel will be a little less tricky, with their main attacking threat coming through Benayoun, Ben Sahar, and Eran Zahavi. Portugal has only played Israel once before, with that game ending in a 2-1 win for the Seleccao. Northern Ireland have caused some upsets in various qualification campaigns in the past, so Portugal may need to look out for that, while Azerbaijan and Luxembourg pose little to no threat at all.