About time we had pre-qualifying.
I would've agreed not so long ago. I have also noticed there is some debate regarding this issue under the clickbait
articles of the online English papers.
There have been some interesting results in the last few days that are being used by ant-pre-qualifying crowd to
support their view. I list them below:
Netherlands 3 - 1 Kazakhstan
(Kazakhstan went ahead, conceded in the 62', had a man sent off at 64' before conceding two goals)
FYR Macedonia 3 - 2 Luxembourg
(Luxembourg were 2-1 in the lead at one stage. In their first match they conceded a late equaliser against Belarus with the match
Italy 2 - 1 Azerbaijan
(Italy's winner came in the 82th... interestingly all 3 goals in this match were scored by Suarez's old pal, Giorgio Chiellini)
I would therefore like to suggest that there are only 3 truly awful teams in Europe:
San Marino, Andorra and Gibraltar
Indeed, San Marino might be the only member of this club. Andorra troubled Wales in the last round, before losing 2-1 while
Gibraltar displayed naivety against Poland. I watched that match and it was only 1-0 in the first half (from a deflected shot)
and the heads dropped once the second went in. They have a 0-0 v Slovakia under their belt (and Slovakia demonstrated
they are no slouches in recent years).
Does warrant pre-qualifying? It will be interesting to see how the new Nations League
develops. It might be that the EUROs become the equivalent of a "cup" competition (and they were indeed played on a straight knock-out
basis in the early years). In which case definitely keep the little guys involved.