It's crunch time for teams in Euro 2016 qualifying. Who's facing the most pressure ahead of the final games of group play? Ben Lyttleton runs them down.
There are coaches fighting to keep their jobs and big names in danger of missing out on a place at the 24-team European Championship next summer in France. While a number of teams–both surprises and perennial powers–have already cemented their places at Euro 2016, it's crunch time for the rest of the qualifying field, which has two games remaining to secure a favorable position.
The Netherlands' continued failure has been one of the top stories of the qualification effort, and the Dutch–top-three finishers in each of the last two World Cups–are in an unenviable spot entering their final two games. They're not alone in feeling the heat, though.
Ahead of the final fixture window featuring group games for Euro 2016 qualification, and the penultimate international break of the year, here are the individuals under pressure:
Mo Besic and Senad Lulic are out injured and all the focus has been on whether talismanic striker Dzeko will join them. He missed Roma’s last game with a knee injury and their coach Rudi Garcia has demanded he only play if he is 100% fit. Bosnia boss Mehmed Bazdarevic may have a different view.
The pity for the coach is that one of the players of Serie A so far this season, Napoli playmaker Lorenzo Insigne, withdrew Wednesday with a knee injury. Insigne has been involved in eight of Napoli’s 16 goals this season, and Conte saw him get a standing ovation from Milan fans after Napoli’s 4-0 domination at the San Siro. Giacomo Bonaventura will step in.
"When I look back at what happened, it was no great loss to Russian football to be deprived of Slutsky the player," he said.
This fixture will be played in front of an empty stadium but Rizzoli’s job will be to keep the players composed as well. UEFA claimed the two nations were not kept apart in the draw (as some countries, like Armenia/Azerbaijan are) because they have never been directly at war. This could well change for the next Euro campaign.
Blind lost his first two games in charge, at home to Iceland and 3-0 in Turkey, and though he was earmarked to lead the campaign for the 2018 World Cup, two more poor results could end his spell in the dugout before it really even begins.