The draw for Euro 2016 groups is still about a month away, but we’ve learned which teams have been put into which pots for the Feb. 23 draw in Nice.
Twenty-four nations will make UEFA’s championship and 53 teams will be involved in qualification. As hosts, France has already qualified but UEFA has announced that the French will be put into a group and play friendlies against the other countries, not to be counted in the group table.
The top seeds will be Bosnia-Herzegovina, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and Spain.
Pot 2 finds Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.
Pot 3 is Austria, Israel, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey.
Fourth-ranked sides are Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Montenegro, Scotland and Wales.
In the fifth pot, we find Albania, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Iceland. Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova and Northern Ireland.
Sixth: Andorra, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, San Marino
There some worries about political divides, and Azerbaijan will be forbidden from being drawn with Armenia. The same is true for Gibraltar and Spain, while Russia and Georgia are comfortable facing each other.
England, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands will be into 6-team groups — there will be one 5-team set — because of television rights deals.