Euro 2016 Forecast: Will Netherlands, Ireland miss out?
The final week of UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying begins on Thursday, and 15 berths will be claimed by Oct. 13.
Though only five berths have been officially claimed (Austria, Czech Republic, England and Iceland, plus host France), most of the top teams have nearly sewn up their spots. That means the remaining drama lies largely in teams jockeying between second place (and an automatic berth) and third place (and a playoff), or among countries fighting simply to make the playoffs.
Remember that the top two teams in each of the nine groups qualify directly, along with the best of the nine third-place teams. The other eight third-place teams enter home-and-home playoffs for the final four places in France.
Here's how ESPN's Soccer Power Index forecasts the final games of group play, with odds for qualifying either directly or for the playoffs. All percentages are based on 10,000 SPI simulations. (For more information on SPI, see Nate Silver's explainers here, here and here.)
The nine groups are divided into three categories based on the remaining drama expected:...