The Offside Yap #1

In a new weekly feature on the site, we call upon some of our contributors to give their thoughts on issues in the game which have got us thinking.. This week we asked The Offside Yap team: For the first time, 24 teams will contest Euro 2016 - in light of yesterday's draw, do you believe Northern Ireland (last major tournament - 1986), Scotland (last major tournament - 1998) and Wales (last major tournament - 1976) have a realistic chance of qualifying?

The Stad de France - with a capacity of over 80,000 - will host the Euro 2016 Final.

The Stad de France – with a capacity of over 80,000 – will host the Euro 2016 Final.

Welshmen Greg Helmich is optimistic about his country’s chance of qualification

@GregHelmich – I’m really happy with the new structure for 2016. As a Welshman I have believed that Wales have the potential to beat any side on their day but rarely have the consistency of performance to gain qualification to a major tournament. The new structure will allow this and Euro 2016 will be much better spectacle by having a player like Gareth Bale at the tournament

Blackburn Rovers fan Sarah Dawkins also believes the new format could play into the hands of Chris Coleman’s men..

@sebdawkins – Wales have the best chance. If they can field their strongest team – which is usually their biggest problem, they should beat Cyprus and Andorra easily. They will hope to get past Bosnia-Herzegovnia and Israel to finish behind probable group winners Belgium. Northern Ireland and Scotland are unlikely to qualify. Northern Ireland’s squad lacks quality whilst Scotland have one of the toughest groups of the nine that includes Germany.

Spurs fan David Lee is less optimistic, highlighting that tricky qualifying groups could mean these nations have to wait a while longer to experience a major competition

@David_Lee91 – With Germany likely to sweep all before them in Group D, Gordon Strachan’s resurgent Scots must take points from their key games with Poland and Republic of Ireland if they are to qualify. Bosnia and Belgium – two of Europe’s in-form sides – will prove a stern test for Wales in Group B. However, any side which boasts Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale cannot be ignored. Defeats to minnows Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in 2014 World Cup Qualifying tells its own sorry story of the state of Northern Irish football. Qualification remains a distant prospect for Michael O’Neill’s side

And Jess Martin believes in spite of the new qualification format that there remains little hope of England and Republic of Ireland being accompanied to France in 2016.

@jessfmartin – No, I still don’t think qualification is a realistic prospect. Now that 24 spots up for grabs, there may be a few more close and exciting games in the qualifying. But sadly, I still don’t think they’ll make it through. These UK teams do have some exceptional ‘stand-out’ players, but I doubt this will merit qualification – especially from groups that consist of Germany and Greece.

What do you think? Can Gareth Bale guide the Welsh to Paris? Is Gordon Strachan the man to bring joy to the Scots? And can Michael O’Neill pull a rabbit out of the hat? 

Find out all you need about Euro 2016 by listening to Episode 27 of The Offside Rule Podcast (We Get It!) which will be available on our Audioboo page on Thursday 27th February.

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