With the UEFA Euro 2024 on the horizon, European football is amping up for the drama and glory that only a continental showdown can throw up. The action will get underway on June 10th as hosts Germany battle it out with underdogs Scotland inside Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena. Over the course of the next month, 24 teams will battle it for the right to be called Champions of Europe, a title that will be earned inside Berlin’s Olympiastadion on July 10th.

Comparison site Oddschecker.com compares the best odds and offers on European football, and they have made England the favorites to claim the crown. The site brings together promotions like bonus bets from top bookmakers like DraftKings Sportsbook, allowing bets to go further whether backing the favorite or an outsider. Yet, the narratives are far from concluded.

Among the suspense that’s keeping fans on tenterhooks is the looming question: Which three teams will emerge victorious in the playoffs, seizing their last chance to secure a spot in one of football’s seminal events? Of the 12 teams that are fighting it out for the three remaining spots, there is a wide range of possibilities, from former champions to potential debutantes ranked 123rd in the world, but which of them will punch their ticket to Euro 2024?

Path A: Wales, Finland, Poland, or Estonia

Path A hosts an array of teams, each with their unique history and footballing identity. Wales’ inspiring run to the semifinals of Euro 2016 is etched in fans’ memories. With star players like Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, they made it to the tournament again four years later before qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup for the first time in 56 years. However, with a new crop of talent coming through the ranks, led by Fulham midfielder Harry Wilson, there is no guarantee that they will make three straight European Championships.

Finland, after their maiden international tournament in Euro 2020, has a newfound momentum. They’ve demonstrated a collective spirit and a shrewd tactical approach, while the goalscoring prowess of Teemu Pukki has bolstered their attack. In qualifying, they were surprisingly underwhelming. Finland started out with four wins in their first five. However, three consecutive defeats, including a shocker at home to Kazakhstan, saw them miss out on qualification by four points. They will have to beat Wales in Cardiff to have any hope of reaching the showdown in Germany.

At the heart of Poland’s Euro aspirations is Robert Lewandowski, whose prolific goalscoring exploits at the highest level make him one of the most feared strikers in world football. However, at the ripe old age of 35, he isn’t the awesome force that Bayern Munich fans came to know and love. Despite reaching the last 16 at the recent World Cup, the Poles are looking underwhelming, but they are still the favorite to qualify from Path A.

While Estonia is often the underdog, no team can be discounted in the playoffs. The closest they came to qualifying for the tournament was back in 2012, but they were soundly defeated by the Republic of Ireland in the playoffs, and they will be hoping to avoid a similar fate in their clash against Poland.

Path B: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Israel or Iceland

Path B hosts nations that have had a bittersweet journey in recent times. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s promising start to the millennium, when they debuted in a major tournament at the 2014 World Cup, is a benchmark they seek to emulate. However, gone are the days of Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic, and the Balkan outfit now has a new squad coming through. Sheffield United captain Anel Ahmedhodžić is perhaps the jewel in the crown.

Ukraine has shown glimpses of what they can achieve with a strong emphasis on youth development. Their performance in qualifiers and international tournaments like the Euro 2020 has illustrated both the flair and unpredictability they bring to the pitch. They made it all the way to the quarterfinals, where they were soundly defeated by eventual finalists England. Ukraine would have made it to Qatar 2022 as well, had it not been for a Gareth Bale freekick punching Wales’ ticket instead. But despite that, they are without a doubt the favorites to make it through Path B and would have already qualified had they been awarded a last-gasp stone wall penalty in their final qualifier against Italy.

Israel and Iceland, while contrasting in climate and population, share a passion for football and a determination to taste success in the playoffs. They will face off for a spot in the Path B final. However, both teams are at opposite ends of their journey. The Icelandics stunned everyone as they reached the quarterfinals of Euro 2016 and then qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The Israelis, meanwhile, have never qualified for a major tournament, and this represents the best chance of ending their drought and sending their country into raptures.

Path C: Georgia, Luxembourg, Greece or Kazakhstan

Path C rounds out the playoff mix of nations looking to break into the upper echelons. Three of the country’s resident minnows, namely Georgia, Luxembourg, and Kazakhstan, will be aiming to upset the apple cart and belay their lowly status by reaching their first-ever major tournament. In order to do that though, they will need to knock off a former champion, Euro 2004 victors Greece.

Georgia’s football scene is brimming with untapped potential, and a Euro qualification would be nothing short of a breakthrough. Their young and hungry squad, coupled with a tactical discipline, poses a challenge to any opposition. They reached the playoff final four years ago, but were stunned by North Macedonia on home turf in their state-of-the-art 55,000 capacity home in Tbilisi.

Luxembourg however are perhaps further ahead in their development and have been on an upward trajectory in international football. The playoffs are a testament to their steady progress and they very nearly achieved so much more. Heading into their final three qualifiers, Luxembourg had a very real possibility of finishing as a runner-up to Portugal before a 1-0 home defeat to Slovenia stopped them in their tracks. Now, if they are to reach their maiden European Championships, they will have to do it the hard way.

After the glory of Euro 2004, Greek football witnessed a surge in enthusiasm and participation. In the years that followed, it’s been a journey of ups and downs. Greece haven’t reached a major tournament in a decade. The last time was when they progressed to the final 16 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where they were ultimately eliminated on penalties by Costa Rica. The playoffs represent not just a qualification bid but a resurgence of footballing fervor in the country two decades on from their finest hour.

Finally, we have the stars of qualifying, Kazakhstan. The officially-Asian nation picked up shock victories against Euro 2020 semifinalists Denmark, as well as a last-gasp winner away against Finland. Had they won their final group game against Slovenia, they’d have already qualified for the continental showdown. Instead, they too must do it the hard way, and it doesn’t come much harder than beating Greece in Athens.

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