England handed soft group for Euro 2020 qualifiers

Gareth Southgate's side avoided the 'group of death', which features Holland, Germany, Northern Ireland, Estonia and Belarus

Sunday 02 December 2018 12:46
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England have been handed a soft-looking qualifying group for the 2020 European Championships.

Gareth Southgate’s men were drawn alongside the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo in Group A ahead of next year’s finals, which will be staged in cities across Europe.

The side avoided the 'group of death', which features Holland, Germany, Northern Ireland, Estonia and Belarus.

The Republic of Ireland were initially drawn into Group C but could not take up the place 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.

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.

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.

PA

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