The draw to decide the qualifying groups for Euro 2012, set to be joint hosted by Poland and Ukraine, was made in Warsaw this morning. The seeding system in place made it quite likely that some of the British Nations and the Republic of Ireland could meet each other in competition for a spot in the finals. England were top seeds and placed in pot one. Repubic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland were in pot three, while Wales were placed in pot four. One team from each pot was selected for each group. Euro 2012 will be the last European Championships to feature only sixteen nations. From 2016, twenty-four nations will compete for the trophy.
There are nine groups in total. Six groups have six countries and three groups have five. Poland and Ukraine qualify automatically as hosts and are joined by the winners of each group and the best group runner-up. The second place teams of the other eight groups will meet in play-offs to decide the final four qualification spots.
In the end, England were drawn into the same group as Wales and will be confident of qualification. They also face the Swiss and Bulgaria, both of whom they will be favourites to beat. The Irish may be content with their group, Russia will be difficult to overcome but Giovanni Trapattoni’s men will be confident of at least securing a runners up spot with Slovakia the second seeds in their group. They do face some tricky journeys into the far reaches of eastern Europe on their way however, being drawn against FYR Macedonia and Armenia aswell. Northern Ireland face a tough time as they try to qualify ahead of Italy and Serbia, as do the Scottish as they are drawn into the same group as Spain and Czech Republic.
The final draw (in order of seeding) looks as follows:
Group A – Germany, Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan
Group B - Russia, Slovakia, Republic of Ireland, FYR Macedonia, Armenia, Andorra
Group C - Italy, Serbia, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Faroe Islands
Group D - France, Romania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, 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, Litunania, Liechtenstein