20 of the 24 teams (including hosts France) have qualified for the 2016 European Championships in the Summer of 2016. While there have been a few major upsets , most of the traditional powerhouses have qualified for the tournament. So, a look at the top 3 teams that achieved more than what was expected out of them and 3 teams that failed to live up to their expectations.
Top 3 teams that exceeded expectations
A team where we only really know their talisman midfielder, Gylfi Sigguardson, few would have seen Iceland make even the playoffs in a group containing Netherlands, Turkey and the Czech Republic. However, the minnows, who played as a team surprised the world by booking their tickets to the Euro 2016 after finishing 2nd in the group with a record of 6 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats.
After narrowly missing out in the World Cup 2014 qualifications (they lost to Croatia in the playoffs), Iceland will now be participating in the country’s first ever major tournament.
What really helped is their team spirit and chemistry, as they performed for the full 90 minutes as a team and not a collection of individuals. Their youthful squad will now have around 6-8 matches from now till the tournament begins to really prepare mentally and for the coaches to choose the correct squad.
They may not make it past the group stage there, but its football where minnows can cause major major upsets and surprises. Nonetheless, its a proud moment for the tiny nation.
Germany were not at their best during the qualification campaign. However, Poland gave them a run for their money and its the 3rd successive European Championship they are in.
Their success in this qualification run is due to their team work and unity and the goals and assists of Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich striker has scored 13 goals and set up 5 goals for his team mates (18 of the 33 goals).
Given the rich vein of form both Lewandowski and the rest of the team is on, and they will be boosted by the fact, they finished just a point adrift of Germany (while taking their first win in many years against the country during the qualifiers), they can really make it to the knockout stages of the tournament.
It was a shock to see Albania finish second in the group behind Portugual, but they did it. Especially with Serbia and Denmark also in the group.
Hardly any Albanian player is in the top European leagues with the exception of a few who play in the Serie A for Lazio and Napoli. They claimed wins against Portugual and a controversial win against Serbia.
This is their first major tournament, and they will be sure to look forward to this experience in France.