The European Championship qualifiers are well upon us again as top domestic leagues throughout Europe shut down for a week.
The excitement to go and cheer on your national team is at fever pitch as you pray for all three points going into the latter stages of the group games.
However, this qualification process for Euro 2016 to be held in France has been for want of a better word rather pedestrian.
Instead of having the regular 16 teams qualify, the next Euros will see an inflated 24 teams take part – almost half of all European nations registered with UEFA.
This has meant lopsided groups- so it may be fun to see the likes of last year’s World Cup semi finalists the Netherlands in third place and six points behind their group leaders Czech Republic.
And it may be interesting to see a rising Belgium team loaded with young talent currently out in fourth place in Group B. Further more the usually dominant Germans are making do with second place behind Poland in Group D.
The truth is these nations all of whom are used to topping their groups with ease, can ease up even more.
Are the Germans really bothered that they drew 1-1 at home to Republic of Ireland or that they saw through a nervy 2-1 victory over Scotland? If they know that finishing third still gives you a chance of qualification.
The better teams can, if they choose and with all intended respect due to lesser footballing nations, not come out of second gear- there are now no mad dashes to secure first place, which before this qualification process was the only guaranteed return to be playing at the Euro’s.
With added pressure for these international players to be on top form for their clubs in the Champions League, this new qualification method set out by UEFA president Michel Platini gives teams much more leverage in how to approach qualifying.
The decision from UEFA to increase the Euro’s by eight teams was made in Bordeaux seven years ago, and broken to the media by Franz Beckenbauer.
Platini had been UEFA President for less than two years when his ideas to increase the competition to 24 teams was given the green light.
However, in doing so he has questionably made the qualifying process which lasts for a whole year dull and uninspiring.
Will we, for example ever see super nations like England, France or the Netherlands not qualify again?