EURO qualifying

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Martinez names Kompany in Belgium squad

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Roberto Martinez is going to suit up a manager as Belgium fights to qualify for EURO 2020.

Okay, okay, that manager is Anderlecht player-manager Vincent Kompany, mere days removed from sealing a domestic treble for Manchester City.

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

Kompany, 33, has been called up by Belgium for the first time since November. He has 87 caps with four goals for the Red Devils, and perhaps the nickname will be a little less awkward now that he’s not a member of the Premier League’s “noisy neighbors.”

Here’s what Martinez had to say about Kompany’s inclusion.

“In modern football it is not easy to combine the job of player and coach,” Martinez added. “In England they have a tradition of that but less and less because the job of coach has become enormously demanding. We must give him time. We will support him in everything he does.”

Belgium is in a qualifying group with Russia, Cyprus, Scotland, Kazakhstan, and San Marino, and should waltz into the tournament.

EURO qualifying: Hazard drives Belgium past Russia; Scotland rocked

AP Photo/Alexei Filippov
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EURO 2020 qualifying allows for a few hiccups along the way. Both Scotland and Russia produced one each on opening day.

Granted the Russians lost a game many suspected they might, falling 3-1 at Belgium, but we want to highlight the unexpected first, don’t we?

Scotland’s trip to Kazakhstan was just that, Alex McLeish’s men falling for the seventh time in his 11-match second tenure with the club.

[ MORE: Hazard, Real, and the back-up plan ]

And boy, did they fall. Scotland conceded twice in the first 10 minutes and again after halftime in a 3-0 loss to the 117th ranked team on the FIFA scale (106th in the slightly fairer Elo Ratings).

Plucky Azerbaijan served notice that it remains a solid dark horse, scaring World Cup finalists Croatia before ultimately losing 2-1.

Back to Russia, it fell by a pair of Eden Hazard goals after Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans and Valencia’s Denis Cheryshev traded first half markers.

Hazard now has 29 international goals ahead of his 100th cap, which will come the next time he hits the pitch.

He may have dove to earn his penalty, but there’s no debating he had the skill buttons activated on the day:

EURO qualifying

Croatia 2-1 Azerbaijan
Slovakia 2-0 Hungary
Netherlands 4-0 Belarus
Austria 0-1 Poland
Israel 1-1 Slovenia
Macedonia 3-1 Latvia
Cyprus 5-0 San Marino
Belgium 3-1 Russia
Kazakhstan 3-0 Scotland
Northern Ireland 2-0 Estonia

EURO 2020 qualifying draw: Germany meets Netherlands again

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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EURO 2020 qualifying has put a freshly invigorated rivalry between Germany and the Netherlands on our calendar twice in the next 11 months.

The Dutch relegated Germany from the UEFA Nations League earlier this Fall, and will attempt to summit Group C in qualifying.

[ MORE: Chicharito beams after brace ]

Other top matches on the docket will be Belgium vs. Russia in Group I, and Spain vs. Sweden in Group F.

The deepest groups are E (Croatia, Wales, Slovakia, Hungary, Azerbaijan) and J (Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, and Liechtenstein).

Due to the new format, the top two group finishers qualify for Europe while group winners from the Nations League guaranteed themselves at least a playoff spot. Groups without such nations or in which the group winners advance via the top two places send the third place team.

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, Macedonia*, Latvia

Group H: France, Iceland, Turkey, Albania, Moldova

Group I: Belgium, Russia, Scotland*, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, San Marino

Group J: Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Finland*, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein