Last night, England won their 10th European Championships qualifier in a row, meaning they managed to gain the maximum amount of points (30), becoming only the sixth team in history to do so. Is securing top-spot is such dominant fashion a good omen for the Euros? Or is there absolutely no correlation between European qualification and European success? Here we look at the other five teams to have aced their qualifying groups in the past and see where they finished in the finals of the European Championship.
Joining France in Group 1 for qualification for the 1992 Euros held in Sweden were Czechoslovakia, Spain, Iceland and Albania. Not one of these teams managed to best the French over two legs, and Michel’s Platini’s men topped the group comfortably.
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France were drawn in the same group as hosts Sweden, England and Denmark. Despite having a perfect score in qualifying, France could not replicate this during the finals, only managing to finish third in the group stage, behind Sweden and eventual winners Denmark.
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Result: Group Stage.
Czech Republic (2000)
After being drawn in the same group as Scotland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania, Estonia and Faroe Islands, Czech Republic managed to win every single game of qualifying, clearing second-place Scotland by a margin of 12 points.
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After having such a prosperous qualifying campaign, Czech Republic looked like one of the stronger teams in the Euros. However, after being drawn in a group with a strong Netherlands, eventual winners France, and previous winners, Denmark, the dream came crashing down for Czech Republic, who could only finish third and did not make it out of the group stage.
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Result: Group Stage.
France are the only team in history to have managed to gain maximum points in qualifying for the European Championships. In the qualifying for the 2004 tournament held in Portugal, France managed to win every game against Slovenia, Israel, Cyprus and Malta.
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Holders France went into the finals of the European Championships in 2004 full of confidence, and rightly so, having gained maximum points in the group stages. Drawn in the same group as England, Croatia and Switzerland, the French managed to win the group unbeaten, having only lost points in a 2-2 draw with Croatia. The quarter finals, however, were as far as France made it, bowing out 1-0 to eventual winners, Greece.
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Result: Quarter Finals.
Germany were one of two teams in the Euro 2012 Qualifiers who managed to win every one of their group matches. Turkey, Belgium, Austria, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan all tried, and failed, to stop the Germans from completing a perfect group stage and qualifying with ease for the 2012 European Championships.
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The might of the German national team carried on into the group stage of the finals. Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands all fell to Joachim Löw’s team, with the Germans again gaining maximum points. The Quarter Finals were a breeze for the Germans too, beating previous winners Greece, 4-2. However, the Germans eventually lost 2-1 to Italy in the Semi Finals with Mario Balotelli scoring 2 goals for the Azzurri.
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Result: Semi Finals.
The second team to finish the Euro 2012 qualifying winning every game was World and European Champions, Spain. After beating Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania and Liechtenstein home and away, the Spanish easily claimed top spot in Group I.
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Drawn in the same group as Italy, Croatia and Republic of Ireland, it looked like the Spanish would have a tough time on their hands. However, after only dropping points when drawing with the Italians, Spain topped their group unbeaten. The Quarter Finals saw Spain matched up against the French, who were swiftly cast aside, with the World Champions winning 2-0. The Semi Finals were not quite as easy, with Spain being drawn against local rivals, Portugal. After a tense 0-0 draw, the match was taken to a Penalty Shootout, where Spain bested the Portuguese 4-0. The final saw Spain matched up against group compatriots, Italy, with whom they had drew 1-1 with earlier in the tournament. The result was not the same this time, with Spain hammering the Italians 4-0 and claiming back-to-back European Championship titles and becoming the first team in history to successfully defend their title.
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England do not typically do well in the European Championships, therefore we never expect much from them. However, after being drawn in a relatively ‘easy’ group, consisting of Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino, the nation expected the team to qualify. Roy Hodgson’s men had to deliver, and they delivered in style. After only letting in 3 goals, and scoring 31, England ended up on 30 points, 9 ahead of second-place Switzerland. However, it remains to be see whether England can finally overcome their European nightmare and win a piece of silverware.
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So, as we can see, only one team, Spain, has gone on to win the tournament after winning every one of their qualifying games. Germany came close, bowing out in the Semi-Finals, and France, in 2004 made it to the Quarter Finals, however, they also did not make it out of the Group Stages in 1992, like Czech Republic in 2000. So, in terms of England being successful in the finals of the tournament, it doesn’t exact bode well, however, there is of course always hope, especially with Spain completing the feat; although they were the World Cup and European Championship holders at the time.