The draw for the Euro 2012 Qualifying groups was made in Warsaw on Sunday.
There was no group that could be labelled as the ‘Group of Death’, however what we did get was some very balanced groups all around. One of the toughest sections appears to be in Group A, where top seed Germany will have to contend with the likes of Turkey, Austria, and Belgium for a place at Euro 2012, to be jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine.
Reigning European champions Spain were dealt a relatively straightforward draw in Group I, where the real battle looks to be for second place between the Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania, and Liechtenstein.
The trio of Portugal, Denmark, and Norway look set to contest Group H, though fast-improving Cyprus will surely have their say along with Iceland. Euro 2004 winners Greece had a tough, but hopeful draw that included Croatia and Israel as main rivals.
Italy, England, Russia, Netherlands, and France are big favorites in their respective groups and would be considered shoo-ins to pick up first place and the automatic berth at Euro 2012. That said, there are always surprises as England found out when they missed out on Euro 2008. This time around Fabio Capello’s side have Switzerland and Bulgaria as their main barriers to progression to the finals.
Reigning World Cup champions Italy will do battle against the likes of Serbia, Nothern Ireland, and Slovenia, while Netherlands will be pushed by Sweden and Russia will be tested by Slovakia and Ireland.
A reminder that the nine group winners qualify for Euro 2012 along with the best runner’s up. The remaining eight teams will be drawn into pairings for a two-legged playoff to see who goes to Poland and Ukraine. These 14 qualifiers will be joined by the two hosts to round out the 16-team field.
Below is the draw in full for the 51 member associations involved in the qualification process:
Group A: Germany, Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan
Group B: Russia, Slovakia, Ireland, Macedonia, Armenia, Andorra
Group C: Italy, Serbia, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Faroe Islands
Group D: France, Romania, Bosnia, Belarus, Albania, Luxembourg
Group E: Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Moldova, San Marino,
Group F: Croatia, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Georgia, Malta
Group G: England, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Wales, Montenegro
Group H: Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, Iceland
Group I: Spain, Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania, Liechtenstein