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European Championship

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Euro qualifying: Vulnerable favorites, dangerous sleepers

Could Eden Hazard and Belgium be in danger of missing the 2016 Euros?
Could Eden Hazard and Belgium be in danger of missing the 2016 Euros?

Aside from the World Cup, the European championship is the most competitive tournament in the world. The tournament features some of the globe's best players, and the upcoming 2016 competition in France will serve as an indicator of which teams are poised to excel at the 2018 World Cup.

The current crop of 53 eligible teams is split into nine groups, with the group winners, runners-up and the best third-placed team earning a tournament berth. The eight remaining third-placed teams face off in a playoff to determine the last four teams to join the host nation in the 24-team field. While this week marks the halfway point in the qualification process for most nations, there are some teams that already stand out for either playing above or below their expected standard.

Here is a look at three Euro 2016 contenders that are showing signs of vulnerability and could be in danger of not qualifying, along with three overachieving teams that could be dangerous sleepers to not only earn a berth to the tournament but make waves at the Euros.


Vulnerable favorites

Belgium | Qualifying record: 1-0-2 (win-loss-draw) | Group rank: 4th

Snapshot: Belgium, which is fourth in Group B, will battle Bosnia-Herzegovina, Wales and Israel for the top spots.

Belgium started strong with a 6-0 opening win over Andorra but subsequent draws against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Wales have raised questions about how the team uses its attacking resources. ...

 By PA Sport

Greg Dyke: England may bid to host Euro 2028

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has dismissed the report on corruption during the FIFA World Cup bidding process as 'a joke'.

England are interested in bidding for Euro 2028 but are very unlikely to bid for the 2026 World Cup, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has said.

FIFA announced last week that the decision on the 2026 tournament will be made in 2017, when Sepp Blatter is still likely to be FIFA president.

The FA has decided not to bid for FIFA tournaments while Blatter is still in power following England's failed bid for 2018 but is eyeing a bid for the European Championship in 2028.

Dyke told Press Association...

Michel Platini re-elected as UEFA president

Michel Platini was re-elected as president of UEFA after running unopposed

VIENNA -- Michel Platini was re-elected as UEFA president on Tuesday, and two critics of Sepp Blatter were chosen to join the FIFA executive committee.

In his acceptance speech, Platini pledged his love for FIFA despite supporting all three candidates against Blatter in the world governing body's own presidential election.

Platini ran unopposed to extend his reign, which started in 2007, and was voted in by acclamation by the leaders of UEFA's 54 member federations to serve four more years.

"This...

 By PA Sport

Harry Kane's England debut likely after Daniel Sturridge withdraws with injury

The ESPN FC crew react to Harry Kane's performance with Tottenham and debate whether he can keep his current football level.
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino praised Harry Kane after scoring his first Premier League hat-trick in their 4-3 win over Leicester, but admitted his side needed to improve defensively.

Harry Kane's chances of making his England debut improved on Monday night after Daniel Sturridge withdrew from the squad to face Lithuania and Italy through injury.

Sturridge underwent a scan at St George's Park in Burton-upon-Trent late on Monday evening after reporting for duty with a hip problem he suffered in Liverpool's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United.

After assessing the results, the England medical staff decided Sturridge would not be able to play in the upcoming matches and sent the striker...

 By PA Sport

England boss Roy Hodgson defends Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw

England manager Roy Hodgson has attempted to dampen the hype surrounding Harry Kane, after handing the Tottenham striker his first England call-up.

Roy Hodgson had no hesitation including Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw in his latest England squad despite the pair's recent poor form.

Barkley was seen as the brightest young attacking talent in the England squad in the build up to the World Cup.

He was the first man off the bench when things were going wrong against Italy and Uruguay in Brazil. And just a few months ago, Hodgson paid Barkley the ultimate compliment for any young English midfielder when he compared him to Paul Gascoigne.

This season...