3:49 Highlights of Wales’ 2-0 win over Hungary in Group E

There were low points for the Republic of Ireland too, who failed to win any of their final three games in Group D, allowing Denmark to pip them to second place with some fans also questioning the quality of the football they have produced under Mick McCarthy.

Northern Ireland knew they would be up against it when they were drawn in the same group as the Netherlands and Germany, and while they were thrashed 6-1 by the latter nation in their final game, they will take heart from their four wins out of four in their games against Estonia and Belarus.

Who are the dark horses?

Perennial dark horses Croatia can no longer be considered as such after reaching the World Cup final last year, but there are several other nations who will fancy their chances of upsetting the odds next summer.

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Poland (80/1) are one of them. They did not make it out of the group stage at last summer’s World Cup, but they were quarter-finalists at Euro 2016 and, following a strong qualifying campaign in Group G, they will approach next year’s tournament hoping to go deeper into the knockout stages.

Their main strength, of course, is Robert Lewandowski, who has racked up a scarcely-believable total of 26 goals for club and country already this season. They boast further attacking firepower in the shape of AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek, who scored four goals in qualifying, and they are also strong in midfield and in goal, where Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny continue to wrestle for the No 1 jersey.

Switzerland (66/1), winners of Group D, could be another team to watch.

They have reached the knockout stages of the last three major tournaments they have appeared at. Last summer, they upset the odds to secure a place in the UEFA Nations League finals, beating Belgium 5-2 along the way. They are light on star quality, but they are young, hungry and well-organised under long-serving head coach Vladimir Petkovic.

Ukraine (100/1) endured a disappointing Euro 2016 campaign and failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup, but they have shown signs of considerable improvement since then. They qualified for Euro 2020 as Group B winners, beating Portugal at home and holding them to a draw away, and have only lost one of their last 21 games in total.

Their squad does not contain any players with a profile like legendary striker Andriy Shevchenko, who is now their head coach, but it does include Premier League duo Oleksandr Zinchenko and Andriy Yarmolenko. Their fine form over the last two years has earned them pot one status for the group stage draw.

Finland blaze trail for history-makers

There were scenes of celebration in Helsinki last week as Finland qualified for a major tournament for the first time in their history, their 3-0 win over Liechtenstein sending them through as Group J runners-up behind Italy. Teemu Pukki scored 10 goals during a qualifying campaign in which Finland finished four points clear of third-placed Greece.

The Finns could be joined by more European Championship newcomers next summer, with Israel and Bosnia and Herzegovina hoping to earn a spot at the tournament for the first time via the play-offs. Georgia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Belarus, meanwhile, are also in play-off contention and — like Finland — targeting their first major tournament appearances.

Remember, you will be able to follow the Euro 2020 play-off draw live on Sky Sports’ digital platforms at 11am on Friday. The ties will then take place at the end of March before the tournament begins in June.

Sourse: skysports.com

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