December 2, 2018 6:01:26 pm
The Netherlands and Germany were grouped together in qualification for the 2020 European Championship at Sunday’s draw in Dublin, one of 12 host cities for the finals that will be staged across the continent for the first time. Germany, the team everyone wanted to avoid after their poor showing in UEFA’s new Nations League competition pushed them into the second pot of seeds, will also play Northern Ireland, Estonia and Belarus in Group C when the qualification competition begins in March.
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. Elsewhere three-times champions Spain were drawn in Group F with Sweden, Norway and Romania. England, one of the other in-form teams from the Nations League, face the Czech Republic and Bulgaria in Group A.
The top two teams from each group qualify automatically. Unlike previous tournaments, the playoffs to decide the four other spots will be contested between the most successful teams from the four divisions of the Nations League who have not already qualified.
The new format offers a potential back door for any top side that struggles in qualifying, while also handing the leading minnows from the lowest division — Kosovo, Georgia, Belarus and Macedonia — a crack at the last qualification place.
The finals will take place in 12 different cities stretching from Bilbao in Spain to Baku in Azerbaijan. For the first time in the competition’s history, the tournament will be hosted by more than two countries to mark its 60th anniversary.
No team will qualify automatically as hosts, although every host country that qualifies will be guaranteed two home games in the group phase. The Euro 2020 final will be held at London’s Wembley Stadium.
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