The English Premier League and Championship took a backwards step last weekend to make way for the return of the Euro 2020 qualifiers as sides across the continent aimed to battle their way to a place in next summer’s footballing extravaganza.

Euro 2020 will be played across major European cities and stadium, including London and Glasgow. It promises to be a real treat for followers of the beautiful game as FIFA unfold the bunting and get set to celebrate.

Who will be there to take part? That remains to be seen but many of the qualifying groups are beginning to take shape with the major nations easing into a lead that should ensure their progress without too much fuss. When each of the divisions is settled, we will see the qualifiers involving the winners from the UEFA Nations League matches face-off.

This gives some of the smaller sides who are likely to miss out through the groups another chance, an opportunity to sneak into the party through the backdoor and that is likely to apply to Steve Clarke’s Scotland.

Sports bettors can have their say on the winners of each of the Euro 2020 qualifying groups at major bookmakers, including 10bet, Ladbrokes and William Hill, or they can look further ahead and get their stake money down on their winner of the competition outright. The final will be played at Wembley next summer.

Bookies have England as Second Favourites for Glory

Will England be the team that finishes on top? It’s certainly a possibility and bookmakers aren’t in a rush to write off the Three Lions and their chances of bagging another major international trophy. Gareth Southgate’s team have been knocking on the door for quite some time now and many experts believe next summer is when they will transform from being plucky underdogs to footballing champions. There has been a fair share of early cash on them doing just that.

The outright betting for Euro 2020 has France as 7/2 favourites with Unibet and they are one place ahead of England who comes in second at 11/2 – market best price with 888Sport. If you do expect the English to steal the prize, you should back them at 888Sport as most other firms offer only 9/2 about the same bet and that’s quite a difference of opinion. Support enough 9/2 shots at 11/2 and you won’t go far wrong in the gambling game, that’s for sure.

Others worth a mention at this stage are Belgium at 7/1 with 10bet, Spain 8/1 Unibet, Germany 8/1 Ladbrokes, Holland 9/1 bet365, Portugal 16/1 bet365, Italy 16/1 Unibet and Croatia who can be backed at a chunky 25/1 with William Hill. From there we start to get into the outsiders, lead by Russia and Poland who both have an 80/1 price tag attached.

Six Points Won and Nine Goals Scored

England played a double-header at home over the weekend when hosting Bulgaria on Saturday evening before taking on a plucky and ambitious Kosovo side in front of their own fans on Tuesday. They got the desired result on both occasions, picking up a maximum six points to add to their pool tally and fans got their entrance fee worth, cheering on no less than nine goals scored in the two international matches. It’s an exciting time to be a follower of the Three Lions.

Gareth Southgate’s team started with a comfortable 4-0 win over Bulgaria in front of a packed and appreciative Wembley on Saturday evening, banking the Group A points without breaking a sweat. Harry Kane scored a sublime hat-trick and that was boosted by a fourth from Raheem Sterling early in the second half. The pair appear to be building a fearsome partnership, one that has fans believing this team could take on all comers and go to the very top. England was well worth their victory and all the talk post-match was about the captain who took home the match ball.

Three days later and Kosovo came to town, the match played at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium in an attempt to take the national team to the people. Many supporters aren’t able to make it to London for a game, especially on a weeknight, so it’s a great idea for the FA to involve different parts of the country by taking the show on the road.

Kosovo Came to Play

The home support didn’t quite know what to expect from Kosovo but what they got was pure entertainment. The final score read 5-3 and that only begins to tell the story of what was a breath-taking evening of football played out between two sides who were only too happy to go on the front foot early and entertain the masses. Berisha gave Kosovo a first-minute lead, but that seemed to annoy the favourites and they had the game won by half-time.

Sterling and Kane were on the scoresheet again and there was also a double for Sancho – scored on 44 and 45 minutes – as well as an own-goal that was given to Vojvoda, although he didn’t much want it. The scores at the break had England 5-1 to the good but it was Kosovo who impressed in the second 45. Berisha added a second on 49 minutes to keep things alive and a Mariqi penalty with 55 on the clock ensured armchair fans had something to watch. Despite Kosovo threatening an unlikely fightback, England was able to regroup, tighten the defence and see the game out for three points.

Gareth Southgate’s analysis was obvious, the manager full of praise for what he called a devastating England attack but picking out the obvious flaws in his defence. That’s something his team will have to work on between now and next summer if they are to have any chance of winning Euro 2020. Conceding three goals at home to Kosovo doesn’t fill sports bettors with confidence, that’s for sure, but it’s worth remembering this was a qualifier and they got the points in the bag.