On Sunday morning in Nice, the full qualifying draw for the 2016 European Championship in France took place with some massive countries set to clash as the quest to reach Euro 2016 begins.
The standout qualifying group from the draw is Group D with Germany, Poland, Republic of Ireland and Scotland alongside Gibraltar and Georgia making up a contender for the “Group of Death.” Elsewhere, the Netherlands also have an extremely tough task in Group A with Kazakhstan, Iceland, Latvia, Turkey and Czech Republic the opposition.
Some of the big nations got off easy as England face Slovenia, Lithuania, San Marino, Estonia and Switzerland in Group E, while reigning champions Spain face Luxembourg, FYR Macedonia, Belarus, Slovakia and Ukraine in Group C.
Overall there are plenty of intriguing matchups on the road to Euro 2016, with new and old rivalries being drawn out and, of course, the countries who weren’t meant to be drawn against each other for political reasons… were paired together and had to be switched. Gibraltar and Spain had to be split up, as did Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Hosts France have qualified automatically for the competition, which kicks of on June 10, 2014 across 10 host cities in France.
For the first time the ‘week of football’ format will be used for this qualifying tournament, as games will be spread evenly from Thursday to Tuesday during the international break. Teams will either play on Thursday and Sunday, Friday and Monday or Saturday and Tuesday during double headers and single games will be played on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This change is aimed at giving people chance to watch as many games as possible, rather than matches all being played at the same time.
Below are the Euro 2016 qualifying groups in full, as the qualifying campaign kicks off on September 7, 2014 and runs until October 13, 2015.
Group A: Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Iceland, Latvia, Turkey, Czech Republic
Group B: Bosnia-Hercegovina, Andorra, Cyprus, Wales, Israel, Belgium
Group C: Spain, Luxembourg, FYR Macedonia, Belarus, Slovakia, Ukraine
Group D: Germany, Gibraltar, Georgia, Scotland, Poland, Republic of Ireland
Group E: England, San Marino, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, Switzerland
Group F: Greece, Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland, Finland, Romania, Hungary
Group G: Russia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Montenegro, Austria, Sweden
Group H: Italy, Malta, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Norway, Croatia
Group I: Portugal, Albania, Armenia, Serbia, Denmark