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La Liga PreviewThis week’s listening report is all about the latest 2016 European Championship qualifiers. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above, and you can also read the transcript of the report (below). There is also explanations of key vocabulary (in bold).

2016 European Championship Qualifiers

We are well over half way through the 2016 European Championship qualifiers and in this report we take a look at the current standings in the nine groups – and maybe offer a prediction or two!

Group A

After six games, surprise package Iceland lead the group from the Czech Republic, Holland and Turkey. The big game this weekend sees the Dutch taking on Iceland in a ‘must-win’ game as they find themselves five points adrift of the leaders, while the Czechs should easily overcome Kazakhstan at home. Turkey still have an outside chance of making the play-offs but they will need to beat Latvia and then the Dutch at home on Monday.

Group B

Group B is also a close affair with any two from five sides still very much in the hunt. Wales lead and if they manage to get full points from their trip to Cyprus and their home match against Israel then they will be well on their way to their first major tournament in over 50 years. Belgium will be favourites to grab second spot in the group and direct qualification but they will have to beat Bosnia and then Cyprus away to do so.

Group C

Group C sees a three-way fight for the two direct qualification places with Spain and Slovakia favourites to capture these two spots. They face each other in Madrid on Saturday while the Ukraine take on Slovakia three days later in a win or bust game for them.

Group D

Group D sees another tight affair with only five points separating four sides. It will be difficult for the Republic of Ireland as they are the team in fourth place but with two games against the minnows of the group: Gibraltar and Georgia to come over the weekend they will be hoping that Germany, Poland and Scotland all slip up to allow them back into contention. The biggest game of the weekend sees Germany host Poland, which is a tricky one to call but Germany will be looking for revenge after an away defeat in Warsaw back in October.

Group E

Group E is much more straightforward as England lead with 18 points from 6 games and will qualify if results go their way this weekend. Switzerland will look to come second but they face England and Slovenia over the next few days – so an important time indeed for the Swiss.

Group F

Three teams are battling it out for direct qualification in Group F but, surprisingly, neither Finland nor 2004 champions Greece feature. Instead, Romania lead Northern Ireland by a point with Hungary a further two points adrift. Hungary face Romania on Friday and then travel to Belfast on Sunday and realistically they will need full points to prevent the current top two from making it to France next summer.

Group G

Austria and Sweden currently fill the top two places and they should claim the top two spots in Group G. Third place Russia play Sweden at home on Saturday while the Swedes take on Austria three days later so the Russians under new coach Slutsky still have a chance – albeit a slim one – to make it to the finals next year.

Group H

Currently Croatia sit top of the Group H table though maybe not for too long as they may lose points due to previous crowd trouble and they face two daunting away trips this weekend – at Azerbaijan and Norway. Italy should find themselves in a more comfortable position after their home games versus Malta and Bulgaria this weekend while Norway, only two points further behind Italy, will also still fancy their chances of making it through.

Group I

There are only five teams competing in Group I and only two points separate the top three though Albania do have a game in hand. Portugal travel to Albania on Wednesday but before then the Danes will have played Albania at home and Armenia away meaning this group is way too close to call.

Vocabulary

surprise package: A team that many people did not expect to do well

a ‘must-win’ game: If they lose then their chances of qualifying will be quite poor

five points adrift: Five points behind

overcome: Defeat

have an outside chance: A small possibility

still very much in the hunt: All have a chance

they will be well on their way to: They should qualify

to grab second spot: To finish second in the group

to capture: Here it means to get/finish in the top two (to win)

win or bust game: If they do not win they will be out

tight affair: A close group

slip up: Make a mistake

back into contention: Back in with a chance; to be in the running

host: To play at home against

a tricky one to call: Difficult to predict

is much more straightforward: Fairly clear

if results go their way: If certain teams lose they will qualify

are battling it out: Are fighting

Belfast: The capital city of Northern reland

albeit: Although

Croatia sit top: They are top

daunting: difficult

still fancy their chances: Still think they have a possibility; they still believe in their chances

have a game in hand: They have played a game fewer

too close to call: To difficult to predict

Links

UEFA.com’s page on the 2016 European Championship Qualifiers

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2015-16Episode 271