Football/Soccer

Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland find out their Euro 2020 qualifier opponents

Nino Gomes (right) draws Republic of Ireland into Group D, stood alongside Ronnie Whelan during the Euro 2020 European qualifier draw at the Convention Centre, Dublin on Sunday December 2 2018.
Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The Republic of Ireland will face Switzerland, Denmark, Georgia and Gibraltar in their quest for Euro 2020 qualification.

The Republic had initially been drawn into Group C but could not take a place there due to there being too many host countries in one group, so Mick McCarthy's team were instead placed in Group D alongside Switzerland, Denmark, Georgia and Gibraltar.

The Republic are up against Denmark yet again. They faced the Danes in the Nations League earlier this year and lost to them in a World Cup play-off in the autumn of 2017.

Switzerland also underlined their strength by coming back from 2-0 down to beat Belgium 5-2 in a Nations League match last month.

Northern Ireland were handed an extremely tough-looking draw and will face Holland and Germany, as well as Estonia and Belarus in Group C.

Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland have it all to do against the Dutch and the Germans, and do not even have a play-off place guaranteed after a poor performance in the Nations League.

Northern Ireland lost to Germany home and away in qualification for the 2018 World Cup and were beaten by Joachim Low's side at Euro 2016.

 

Ronnie Whelan (left) draws Northern Ireland into Group C, stood alongside Nino Gomes during the Euro 2020 European qualifier draw at the Convention Centre, Dublin on Sunday December 2 2018.
Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire 

 

England appear to have been granted a comfortable-looking passage to Euro 2020.

Gareth Southgate's men, who reached the World Cup semi-finals in the summer, will take on the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo next year to reach the finals, which will be staged in cities across the continent.

Wales will face World Cup finalists Croatia in Group E, which also contains Slovakia, Hungary and Azerbaijan.

Scotland are up against Belgium, Russia, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and San Marino in Group I.

England have never played the Czechs in a competitive match since the break-up of Czechoslovakia, with one win and one draw from two previous friendly encounters.

Similarly, they have not faced Kosovo before. Kosovo only gained FIFA membership in 2016.

England beat Bulgaria home and away en route to qualification for Euro 2012 and also faced them in qualifying for the 2000 and 1980 finals.

 

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

 

Montenegro were qualification opponents for England for Euro 2012, and also for the 2014 World Cup finals. They have only beaten them once, drawing the other three encounters.

The rejuvenated Dutch - who finished top of a Nations League group containing Germany and France - last faced Northern Ireland in June 2012 in a match which finished 6-0 in favour of the Oranje.

Scotland were beaten 4-0 by group opponents Belgium in a September friendly but at least know they have a play-off place to fall back on if they cannot secure one of the two top spots in the group.

Russia look the other strongest team that Alex McLeish's men will face.

 

New Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy (centre) with new assistant coaches Terry Connor (left) and Robbie Keane following a press conference at The Aviva Stadium, Dublin 

 

 

EURO 2020 QUALIFICATION DRAW IN FULL

GROUP A: England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo.

GROUP B: Portugal, Ukraine, Serbia, Lithuania, Luxembourg.

GROUP C: Holland, 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 and Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein.

:: Ties to be played in the March, June, September, October and November 2019 international breaks.

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