Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Few scares for Southgate's England after Euro 2020 qualifying draw

KALININGRAD RUSSIA- JUNE 28 Gareth Southgate Manager of England applauds fans after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Belgium at Kaliningrad Stadium UEFA Draw Euro 2020 Qualification Groups
Frederick Owens | 02 December, 2018, 17:19

However, they were initially picked to go into Group C, which would have put them alongside Germany, Netherlands, Estonia, and Belarus.

However, as more than two host nations for the tournament could not be drawn alongside each other, Ireland could not be placed in this group.

Arguably the toughest group is Group F in which Sweden, Norway and Romania will likely compete for one berth behind Spain.

England, one of the other in-form teams from the Nations League, face the Czech Republic and Bulgaria in Group A.

England are in a section with just five teams rather than six because they have qualified for the final four of the Nations League, which will be held next June in Portugal.

"I would say it's a group with three candidates for two places, and Portugal are one of them", said Portugal coach Fernando Santos.

"We have played them recently, I was chatting to Kev Kilbane and he said they have a good side".

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"It was amusing when Nuno [Gomes] picked [the Republic of Ireland name] out, he looked at Robbie [Keane] and he looked at Ronnie [Whelan], and I know what he picked out, I knew it was us in that group with Holland and Germany".

Group J: Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein.

Germany dropped into pot two for the draw in Dublin after suffering relegation in the Uefa Nations League.

The new format offers a potential back door for any top side that struggles in qualifying, while also handing the leading minnows from the lowest division - Kosovo, Georgia, Belarus and Macedonia - a crack at the last qualification place.

The draw for that will take place on Monday. For the first time in the competition's history, the tournament will be hosted by more than two countries to mark its 60th anniversary.

Dublin, Amsterdam and Munich will all play host to Euro 2020 games, meaning McCarthy's side were moved to Group D in which they will face the likes of Switzerland and Denmark, while their neighbours Northern Ireland filled their original position in Group C.

However, he thought the incident was amusing, and he would have welcomed the opportunity to take on two former European champions to qualify for Euro 2020.

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