Football Features

Euro 2020 play-offs predictions as Scotland & Northern Ireland seek to qualify

By Harry Edwards

Euro 2020 play-offs predictions: Scotland & Northern Ireland seek to qualify

Published: 18:00, 10 November 2020

The final international break of 2020 is here and it’s an important one as eight teams fight for the final places at Euro 2020.

Qualification for the tournament recently underwent a change, and entries for the play-offs were decided based on performance in the 2018/19 Uefa Nations League.

The Nations League was split into four leagues, each having four groups. The winners of each of the groups, who hadn’t already secured a Euro 2020 spot via the traditional qualifying route were given a second chance though the play-offs.

A total of 16 teams entered the play-offs, split into four paths of teams from the same league where possible. You’re still with us, right?

All this meant that some of the smaller nations had a chance of reaching the European Championships for the first time. So, who are teams fighting for the final four spots at Euro 2020, what are their chances of reaching the tournament next summer, as per SBK’s percentage odds?

*All odds correct as of 15:00 on 10/10/2020. You have to be 18+ and GambleAware to sign up to SBK.

Hungary vs Iceland: Prediction

Four years ago, Iceland were the surprise package of Euro 2016, finishing above eventual winners Portugal in the group stages and beating England en route to the quarter-finals. But this time around they have had to settle for the play-offs as they bid to secure their spot in next summer’s tournament.

Iceland finished bottom of their Nations League group, but as the only League A team not to secure their Euro 2020 spot through the traditional route, they were handed the second chance and placed with teams from League C. A narrow 2-1 win over Romania secured their spot in the Path A final, where they will face Hungary, one of the tournament’s hosts.

Hungary beat Bulgaria in their semi-final and have lost just one of their five games in 2020, with that coming against Russia in the Nations League. Like Iceland, Hungary are hoping to return to the Euros having featured in 2016, but it will be tough for both teams. 2-1 Iceland.

SBK percentage odds:

Hungary win: 40.32%
Draw: 30.30%
Iceland win: 30.77%

Northern Ireland vs Slovakia: Prediction

We were so close to getting what would have been a thrilling all-Ireland final for Path B but Slovakia were the villains of the tale, beating Republic of Ireland on penalties. Northern Ireland also advanced on penalties, beating Bosnia & Herzegovina as they hope to reach the European Championships for just the second time, after their historic appearance in 2016.

But things haven’t been going too well for Northern Ireland since Ian Baraclough replaced Michael O’Neill as manager. That penalty shootout win over Bosnia is the only victory Baraclough has tasted, with three defeats and a draw in his five matches so far. It’s a similar situation for Slovakia, who are winless this year aside from their penalty shootout victory over Ireland, with three defeats and one draw. However, they may just edge this one, with Marek Hamsik expected to play a leading role. 1-0 Slovakia.

SBK percentage odds:

Northern Ireland win: 35.97%
Draw: 33.33%
Slovakia win: 32.26%

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Serbia vs Scotland: Prediction

Looking to complete the trio of British teams in Euro 2020 alongside England and Wales are Scotland, who are also one of the tournament’s hosts. Steve Clarke’s side are in good form going into this week’s game against Serbia and unbeaten in 2020, including the penalty shootout victory over Israel to reach the play-offs final. However, one problem Scotland will have to overcome is the withdrawal of Ryan Fraser, who started their most recent matches in attack.

Standing in their way are Serbia, who beat Norway after extra-time in the last round. Then, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was their star man, scoring twice from midfield to take his surprisingly low tally for the country to three. But the Lazio midfielder is certainly about more than just the goals, and he will be key to attempts to break Scottish hearts, alongside Dusan Tadic and Fulham forward Aleksandar Mitrovic. 2-1 Serbia.

SBK percentage odds:

Serbia win: 57.14%
Draw: 25.97%
Scotland win: 17.24%

Georgia vs North Macedonia: Prediction

This tie is set to be an historic one, with both Georgia and North Macedonia looking to reach their first ever major tournament as single nations (Georgia was formerly part of the Soviet Union, while North Macedonia is a successor state of Yugoslavia). North Macedonia have been on the up in recent years, beating Kosovo in the semi-finals and still boast cult figure Goran Pandev among their squad, only he has now been joined by the likes of Enis Bardhi and Elif Elmas. Georgia haven’t been faring too badly either, unbeaten in their past five games, including a 1-0 win over Belarus to reach the final.

These sides have already faced off twice this year, in the Nations League, with 1-1 draws coming in both matches, so we know it’s going to be a close one. But someone has to go through and reach Euro 2020. 2-1 North Macedonia.

SBK percentage odds:

Georgia win: 34.97%
Draw: 33.33%
North Macedonia win: 32.26%