December 3 – While there wasn’t quite a group of death, the Netherlands drew the short straw by being paired with Germany in qualification for the 2020 European Championship on Sunday.
Germany were the team everyone wanted to avoid after their poor showing in UEFA’s new Nations League which pushed them into the second pot of seeds. That capped a miserable year for Germany which saw the then world champions humiliated by a group-stage exit in Russia in June.
The Euro 2020 draw took place in Dublin, one of 12 host cities for the finals that will be staged across the continent as a one-off to mark the 60th anniversary of the tournament.
Qualification begins in March with the Netherlands-Germany clash the pick of the bunch. The Dutch, European champions in 1988, failed to qualify for the last two major tournaments but have been rejuvenated under new coach Ronald Koeman, beating Germany last month on their way to securing a spot in the final stages of the Nations League.
“The development of the team is really positive,” Koeman said. “(Fans) have a lot of belief in the team.”
None of the 12 host countries has guaranteed entry to the finals which will open in Rome and end in London at Wembley Stadium, which will stage both semi-finals and the final.
England, not for the first time, has a seemingly smooth path to the finals, when it will host at least two games in the group stage at Wembley.
Gareth Southgate’s side, which this year unexpectedly reached the World Cup semifinals and advanced to the Nations League Final Four, was drawn alongside Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo.
“We are improving as a team and we have huge motivation to get to the finals because we are a host city,” Southgate said.
Holders Portugal must face Ukraine and Serbia in a tricky five-team Group B while world champions France drew Iceland and Turkey in Group H.
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, Andorra.
Group I: Belgium, Russia, Scotland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, San Marino.
Group J: Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein.
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