Sunday evening saw the draw for the Euro 2020 qualifying groups take place in Dublin, meaning that several of our international players have new dates in the diary to look forward to as they aim to seal their place in the finals tournament.
These draws are always a complex affair – this year more than most. With the finals tournament taking place across 12 nations in 2020, the draw was constructed in such a way that no more than two host countries could be drawn into the same group.
And the ‘luck of the Irish’ bore fruit as the Republic of Ireland were initially dropped into Group C with Germany and the Netherlands… only to be moved to a different pool because Munich and Amsterdam are host cities in the finals, as is Dublin!
Instead, Ireland – who have been represented by Paul McShane and David Meyler in recent times – will face Switzerland, Denmark, Georgia and Gibraltar home and away in Group D, with the top two teams qualifying.
Chris Gunter – who is now the all-time caps record holder for Wales’ men’s team – could expand on his 93 international appearances through his involvement in Group E. They are set to face World Cup runners-up Croatia, as well as Slovakia, Hungary and Azerbaijan.
Adrian Popa’s nation Romania have a tough task ahead if they are to reach the finals; they have been drawn into the six-nation Group F, which also includes Spain, Sweden, Norway, Faroe Islands and Malta.
Iceland, who upset the odds to reach the Quarter-Final in the 2016 edition of the tournament, will aim to make it a third straight qualification for an international tournament after their involvement at this year’s World Cup. Jón Daði Böðvarsson’s nation will play home and away against World Cup winners France, as well as Turkey, Albania, Moldova and Andorra in Group H.
And lastly, Anssi Jaakkola will hope that his recent involvement in the Royals’ first-team will let him build on his three Finland caps to date. The Finns are in Group J along with Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Armenia and Liechtenstein.
20 nations will win their place at Euro 2020 in that way; the final four will be won through the European Qualifiers play-offs, which will be contested by the 16 UEFA Nations League group winners (i.e. the four group winners in each of the four divisions). If a Nations League group winner has already qualified, then their play-off spot will go to the next best-ranked team in their league.
Euro 2020 qualifying groups:
Group A: England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo
Group B: Portugal, Ukraine, Serbia, Lithuania, Luxembourg
Group C: Netherlands, Germany, Northern Ireland, Estonia, Belarus
Group D: Switzerland, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Georgia, Gibraltar
Group E: Croatia, Wales, Slovakia, Hungary, Azerbaijan
Group F: Spain, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Faroe Islands, Malta
Group G: Poland, Austria, Israel, Slovenia, FYR Macedonia, Latvia
Group H: France, Iceland, Turkey, Albania, Moldova, Andorra
Group I: Belgium, Russia, Scotland, Cyprus, Kazahkstan, San Marino
Group J: Italy, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein