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Opening Euro 2020 Qualifying Playoff Odds Favor Iceland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia & North Macedonia

Gary Gowers

by Gary Gowers in Soccer

Nov 26, 2019 · 12:36 PM PST

Iceland fans at 2018 World Cup
Will Iceland fans get the chance to do their famous 'thunderclap' celebration at Euro 2020? First of all, they need to win their 'qualifying path' in next spring's playoffs. Photo By Svetlana Beketova (Wiki Commons) [CC License]
  • The Euro 2020 playoffs take place in March 2020 ahead of next June/July’s finals
  • Oddsmakers have issued early odds for the playoffs
  • Iceland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and North Macedonia all among the favorites to qualify from their respective paths

The draw for next summer’s Euro 2020 Finals takes place on November 30 but there are still four places to be decided.

Sixteen teams are competing for these remaining places, based on performances in the inaugural UEFA Nations League and placings in the  Euro 2020 qualification groups, and will compete in a series of playoffs between March 26-30 next spring.

We’ll take a look at the early odds to see if we can identify any value in placing a bet now.

Euro 2020 – Qualifying Path A Odds

Team Odds
Iceland +200
Romania +225
Hungary +250
Bulgaria +450

All odds taken on Nov 26

One look at the odds tells the story here – there is very little to choose between Iceland, Romania and Hungary. Even Bulgaria, although fourth favorites, have a realistic chance of winning that priceless qualifying place.

Iceland have the edge from the bookies’ perspective partly due to their excellent showing at the Euro 2016 finals in France, and also in the 2018 World Cup, and there is an argument here that says they will benefit from these experiences. Game management is key in games like these and the Icelanders certainly responded on the big stage four years ago.

Home advantage will certainly benefit Iceland in their semifinal against Romania, whose FIFA ranking of 25 is the highest of the four, and it will also benefit Bulgaria in their tie with Hungary.

A final playoff game between Iceland and Bulgaria looks a possibility, with the final in Sofia. On that basis, an early bet on Bulgaria at +450 makes perfect sense.

Pick: Bulgaria to win Qualifying Path A

Euro 2020 – Qualifying Path B Odds

Team Odds
Bosnia-Herzegovina +120
Slovakia +250
Republic of Ireland +350
Northern Ireland +550

This one is particularly interesting as it offers the possibility of an all-Ireland final. It’s a longshot though with both playing away from home in their respective semifinals – Northern Ireland away in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republic in Slovakia – and oddsmakers have the Bosnians as favorites with good reason.

Led by Edin Džeko, Bosnia have an experienced squad that has plenty of big tournament experience and so, like Iceland, are probably better equipped than the other three teams in this quartet to get the job done. It’s an interesting one though, and if Northern Ireland, for whom this will be manager Michael O’Neill’s final competition, can sneak a win in Zenica it will set up a playoff final in Belfast. The value here, for that reason, is with Northern Ireland’s +550.

Slovakia vs Republic of Ireland in Trnava will be equally tense, but Mick McCarthy’s men struggle for goals, especially on the road. The Slovakians look set to win this and set themselves up for a final away from home.

Pick: Northern Ireland to win Qualifying Path B

Euro 2020 – Qualifying Path C Odds

Team Odds
Serbia +130
Norway +185
Scotland +350
Israel +800

The draw has not been kind to Serbia and despite being the highest-ranked team in this quartet (29 in FIFA rankings) they will have to overcome a tough away game in order to qualify for the playoff final. They are, however, player-for-player the best team in the group and produced some good performances in the 2018 World Cup.

The Serbs’ semifinal in Oslo will be a tense, attritional affair but Norway struggle for goals and this is one looks set for a narrow away win, probably by the odd goal.

The other semifinal, at Hampden Park, promises to be a raucous occasion. The Scotland fans have been starved of big tournament action over the last decade and this offers them a route to a tournament for which Glasgow is one of the host cities.

A home semi against Israel – the second-lowest ranked team in the playoffs – offers Scotland the perfect chance of getting to the final, but it is hard to see them having enough to overcome the Serbs. I can only see their odds coming in, so now’s the time to take a piece of Serbia’s +130.

Pick: Serbia to win Qualifying Path C

Euro 2020 – Qualifying Path D Odds

Team Odds
North Macedonia +200
Georgia +260
Kosovo +260
Belarus +325

This group is a difficult one to call and oddsmakers agree with very little separating the first and fourth favorites. North Macedonia just edge it courtesy of having a home draw in the semifinal and having performed well in Euro 2020 qualifying, but even Belarus have a realistic chance of winning this mini-tournament and qualifying.

Home advantage, as ever, could be decisive, which also gives an edge to Georgia in their semi with Belarus, but this may be less of an issue in Skopje where the Macedonians entertain their close neighbors, Kosovo – both countries being part of the old Yugoslavia. Skopje to the Kosovan capital Pristina is less than 100km, so there will be plenty of support for the visitors.

If Kosovo can curb their natural inclination to attack – sometimes recklessly – their collection of fine technicians could be able to pull off an away win. I also fancy Georgia to have enough to see off Belarus – they too have some quality technicians – and a Georgia/Kosovo final is definitely an entertaining prospect.

My pick: Georgia to win Qualifying Path D

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