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Poland

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. ...

Arkadiusz Milik is grabbing attention as the next great Ajax, Polish striker

Eleven goals and four assists in 19 league games this season is a fine return for the 21-year-old Polish striker.

Oct. 11, 2014, will always be remembered as a historic date for Poland: it was the day they managed to defeat Germany for the very first time. The man most responsible for the achievement was not Robert Lewandowski, superstar in the Bundesliga for both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, but rather his little-known partner at the time, Arkadiusz Milik, who barely featured when on loan at modest Augsburg last season. The youngster headed home a cross from Lukasz Piszczek en route to a 2-0 triumph,...