Cloughie goes to Rio
England could meet France in their group as the 1998 World Cup winners are seeded in the 2nd group.
For some inexplicable reason, not only is Israel considered in Europe, but now Kazakhstan is too. Clough surely won’t fancy being the first England manager to visit there.
There are 9 Groups, 8 with 6 teams, 1 with 5.
The first two rounds of seeds have been drawn.
Group 1 – Macedonia, Wales
Group 2 – Armenia, Malta
Group 3 – Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan
Group 4 – Estonia, Albania
Group 5 – Cyprus, Iceland
Group 6 – Azerbaijan, Luxembourg
Group 7 – Latvia, Liechtenstein
Group 8 – Moldova, San Marino
Group 9 – Finland
Now for the 4th group of seeds, which includes Scotland and N.Ireland
And the first team drawn out is…….Scotland
Well, they go into Group 1 along with Wales & Macedonia.
N.Ireland get drawn into Group 6 along with Azerbaijan and Luxembourg
With the 3rd group of seeds, Ireland are drawn into Group 3, which includes Austria, Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan.
So now after 5 groups of seeds have been drawn, here are how the groups are set out
Group 1 – Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia, Wales
Group 2 – Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Malta
Group 3 – Sweden, Ireland, Austria, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan
Group 4 – Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra
Group 5 – Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland
Group 6 – Russia, Israel, N.Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg
Group 7 – Slovakia, Bosnia, Lithuania, Latvia, Liechtenstein
Group 8 – Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, San Marino
Group 9 – France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland
Now for the final 9 countries to be drawn. I would reckon England will fancy Groups 5, 6 & 7, but let’s see what happens.
For the first country drawn out……Croatia
Group 1 – Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia, Wales
Well the games between Croatia v Serbia and Scotland v Wales should be interesting encounters, not to mention Macedonia against either Croatia or Serbia. Belgium are definitely the odd ones out here.
Group 2 – Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Malta
That looks quite a tough group there, Italy, Denmark and the Czechs battling it out for 2 places
Group 3 – Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan
Tough group for Ireland. They’ll be battling Sweden for a play-off place, as you’d expect Germany to win the group
Group 4 – Holland, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra.
Hungary and Romania certainly aren’t the power they once were, so the Dutch should take that group with Turkey in 2nd.
Next out of the bag…..Norway
Group 5 – Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland
That looks like quite a weak group there, England would’ve fancied that one.
Group 6 – Portugal, Russia, Israel, N.Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg
Could be close between Portugal and Russia in that one
Just 3 countries to go, and one of them is England
Group 7 – Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia, Lithuania, Latvia, Liechtenstein
England would’ve really wanted that one. Just 2 groups left and it’s either France or Poland for England now.
Group 8 – England, Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, San Marino
Some old favourites for England there. Poland, who they seem to be up against in nearly every qualifying tournament, Montenegro, who they meet in the Euro qualifiers, and San Marino, Stuart Pearce’s favourite team.
That just leaves……Spain
Group 9 – Spain, France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland
That’s quite a group. With only 1 definite qualifier, Spain and France are going to battling it out for that.
Matches don’t kick off till 8th September when Poland visit Wembley.
Here is a breakdown of England’s fixtures in Group 8
Poland (H), 8th September 2012
Ukraine (a) 12th September 2012
Moldova (a) 13th October 2012
Montenegro (H) 17th October 2012
San Marino (a) 27th March 2013
Poland (a) 8th June 2013
Ukraine (H) 7th September 2013
Moldova (H) 11th September 2013
San Marino (H) 12th October 2013
Montenegro (a) 16th October 2013
But for now, attention turns to the qualifiers for the 2012 European Championships. England lead Group H, unbeaten but have already dropped 4pts with draws in two home matches against Montenegro and Switzerland. England travel to Bulgaria in September as Montenegro go to Wales. It looks like it’s between those two at the moment.