Playoff Finals Preview

The final hurdle awaits for six teams who are fighting for the final three places at this summer’s big tournament. Twelve were reduced to six on Thursday evening as most of the favourites won their tie. The results were as follows:

Georgia 2 – 0 Luxembourg

Bosnia & Herzegovina 1 – 2 Ukraine

Greece 5 – 0 Kazakhstan

Israel 1 – 4 Iceland

Poland 5 – 1 Estonia 

Wales 4 – 1 Estonia

The final set of matches will be played on Tuesday evening:

Georgia vs Greece at 18:00 CET

Ukraine vs Iceland at 20:45 CET

Wales vs Poland at 20:45 CET

This time around, Greece and Ukraine are favourites whereas the final match is currently very finely poised, with not much to choose between the two teams despite Wales having home advantage.

Georgia vs Greece 

Georgia somehow find themselves one step away from a European Championship, despite what has been a somewhat underwhelming couple of years and a poor overall qualification campaign. They have their Nations League form to thank for this chance as well as a relatively good draw which saw them beat Luxembourg 2-0 in the semi-final last week. They will be playing at home once again, but this time against a tougher opponent, Greece. The winner will take one of the final three spots available at next summer’s football bonanza in Germany. Despite home advantage, Georgia will be underdogs in this tie. They are currently 28 places below Greece in the world rankings so they will know they have their work cut out for them. On the plus side, they are unbeaten in four home matches and will hope the home fans can roar them on to success. 

2004 champions Greece will travel to Tbilisi in an optimistic mood and will feel they are justifiably favourites in this head-to-head. However, they will do well to keep in mind that they have not qualified for a Euro finals since 2012. Their 5-0 demolition of Kazakhstan last week was impressive and they only have one loss in their last five qualification matches. Gus Poyet continues to impress since his arrival as head coach, he has 12 wins from 20 matches so far and has his team organised in a way that makes them hard to beat. They are unbeaten against Georgia with three wins out of four matches played between the two nations. 

Ukraine vs Iceland

Ukraine will go into this match as significant favourites, despite Iceland’s impressive win over Israel in the previous round. Another factor is Ukraine continue to play in a neutral stadium and haven’t played a proper home game in over two years. Despite this, Serhiy Rebrov’s team are close to making it to a major international tournament and their fourth successive European Championship. This game will be played in Wroclaw in Poland. Their record in final playoff ties isn’t great, as they have won just once, in 2015, in seven such big tournament qualifying matches. Last week’s narrow win over Bosnia was a tough encounter which required two late goals to send them through at the expense of their hosts. 

Iceland had a far easier task against Israel, winning 4-1 on Thursday to set them up for this match. Their manager stated that the performance last week was the best of his tenure and he will be hoping for the same again against a tougher opponent. This would be the first time that they make it to a European Championship since their impressive run in 2016. Iceland have an impressive away record, with three wins in a row but they struggle against the giants of the game, having not beaten a team ranked in the top 30 since they beat Turkey in 2017.

Wales vs Poland

Both teams were comfortable winners of their matches last week to set up this, the most intriguing of the three playoff finals. Wales got the better of Finland, winning 4-1, as they look to make it to another major tournament. They have managed to qualify for all bar one since 2016 but they will know that Poland are definitely a step up in class on Finland and that they will need to put on a strong performance to win and make it to Germany. Wales are on a very good run, unbeaten in seven matches and home advantage will be big for them as they have only lost one of their last 16 Euro matches in Cardiff. 

Poland have a great record against Wales, they are unbeaten in nine matches since 1973 so they will travel to Cardiff in a confident mood, despite the strong home form of their hosts. Their previous round was also impressive as they swept aside Estonia, winning 5-1 in Warsaw. That result means that they are now five matches unbeaten and they will be desperate to continue on their good record of appearing in European Championship finals as they have been to every one since 2004. Poland’s away form has been somewhat of a concern however as prior to beating Faroe Islands in October, they lost five away ties in a row but on the positive side they can look to the fact that they won in Cardiff in October 2022 in the Nations League.  

Last Updated: 25.03.2024