Spain handed easy Euro 2012 draw

Spain's chances of repeating 2008 success boosted after Euro 2012 draw.

    Spain have not drawn any World Cup qualifying teams in Group I [EPA]
    European champions Spain have been given a relatively easy ride in their qualifying group for the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

    Spain will face the Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania and Liechtenstein in Group I after the draw was made in Warsaw, meaning that Spain, the top-ranked team in the world, will not have to face any team that qualified for this year's World Cup.

    Germany, runners-up to Spain in the Euro 2008 final, face neighbours Austria in Group A as well as Turkey in what should be a straightforward group for them to negotiate into the finals in two years' time.

    Germany beat both teams on the way to the final, including a dramatic 3-2 victory over Turkey in the semis.

    Turkey have a large number of fans among their immigrants in Germany. The
    Germans will also face Belgium, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, coached by former
    Germany boss Berti Vogts.

    "I am neither shocked nor pleased. Logistically, it's not going to be simple,'' Germany coach Joachim Loew said of the long trips to Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

    World champions Italy will face two 2010 World Cup finalists in Serbia and Slovenia in Group C which also includes Northern Ireland, Estonia and Faroe Islands.

    England will renew their old rivalry with Wales after being drawn together in Group G, while France, runners-up in the 2006 World Cup final, face a challenge from Romania, Bosnia, Belarus, Albania and Luxembourg.

    Demanding group

    Italy, who won the European title in 1968, face World Cup qualifiers Serbia and Slovenia, will also face Northern Ireland, Estonia and the Faeroe Islands in Group C.

    "It's a very demanding group, the only group with three World Cup finalists,'' Serbia coach Radomir Antic said after the draw.

    "Italy has all the experience, they know how to play championships. And Slovenia eliminated Russia from the World Cup.''

    England were with another World Cup finalist, Switzerland, in Group G. They also face neighbours Wales and have two trips to the Balkans, to Bulgaria and Montenegro.

    "Wales is a really good team, very young and a derby is never a normal game," said Capello whose side are ranked 9th in the world according to Fifa with the Wales team listed as 77th.

    Euro 2010 draw

    Group A
    Germany. Turkey. Austria
    Belgium, Kazakhstan

    Group B
    Russia, Slovakia, Ireland
    Macedonia, Armenia

    Group C
    Italy, Serbia, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia
    Faroe Islands

    Group D
    France, Romania, Bosnia
    Belarus, Albania

    Group E
    Netherlands, Sweden
    Finland, Hungary, Moldova
    San Marino

    Group F
    Croatia, Greece, Israel
    Latvia, Georgia, Malta

    Group G
    England, Switzerland
    Bulgaria, Wales

    Group H
    Portugal, Denmark, Norway
    Cyprus, Iceland

    Group I
    Spain, Czech Republic
    Scotland, Lithuania

    The Welsh failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup in South Africa, but the Italian will not be taking the Welsh lightly with plenty of sporting rivalry between the two British nations.

    Switzerland, under ex-Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, are ranked 18th by Fifa while Bulgaria could also present the Three Lions with some problems.

    "I think every game will be really tough," added Capello.

    "(We will face) really good teams.

    "It'll be really interesting and impossible for us to relax in any game.

    "We'll have to stay focused."

    Romania rematch

    France, the 2000 champion, will again face Romania after also playing the team in World Cup qualifying. The other Group D teams are Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Albania and Luxembourg.

    Euro 2008 quarter-finalists Croatia under coach Slaven Bilic will have Euro 2004 winners Greece to overcome in Group F, where they have also drawn Malta, Georgia, Latvia and Israel.

    Portugal will have three trips to northern Europe in Group H, with World Cup finalist Denmark, Norway and Iceland awaiting along with Cyprus.

    Holland, who won the European Championships in 1988, have arguably the toughest group in the competition and will face Sweden, Hungary, Finland, Moldova and minnows San Marino in Group E.

    Russia, who like Croatia did not qualify for the World Cup but were placed among the nine top-seeded teams, are in Group B along with Slovakia, who have qualified for the World Cup.

    The Euro 2012 finals will take place from June 8 to July 1 2012 in eight host cities - four in each of Poland and Ukraine - with the final set to be held in Kiev.

    The winners of the nine groups and the best runner-up qualify directly for the final tournament.

    The eight remaining runners-up will have to battle it out in play-off matches to decide which teams grab the remaining four tickets.

    As co-hosts, Poland and Ukraine qualify for the tournament automatically.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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