Germany will face the Netherlands in a challenging qualifying group for the 2020 European Championship in a swift reunion between the sides after meeting in the UEFA Nations League.
Only one point was collected from two matches against the Netherlands as Germany was relegated from the Nations League last month, capping a miserable year that saw Joachim Loew’s side deposed as world champions with a group-stage exit in Russia.
The Netherlands didn’t even qualify for the World Cup after also failing to make Euro 2016 despite a jump to 24 teams. But the Dutch are resurgent with a young team coached by Ronald Koeman, with a shot at silverware in the Nations League Final Four tournament in June.
Before then, qualifying begins in March for the first continent- wide European Championship that sees no host nation guaranteed a spot. Two teams qualify from each of the ten groups. Also drawn yesterday in Group C alongside the Netherlands and Germany are Northern Ireland, Estonia and Belarus.
Usually staged in one or two nations, UEFA has distributed games across Europe to celebrate 60 years of the competition after finding it tough to find a single suitable host.
The tournament will open in Rome on June 12 before ending in London at Wembley Stadium, which will stage both semifinals and the final on July 12.
England has a seemingly smooth path to the finals, when it could host two games in the group stage at Wembley. Gareth Southgate’s side was drawn in Dublin alongside Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo, which is in qualifying for the first time for a European Championship.
France, which won the World Cup in July and lost the Euro 2016 final on home soil, is in qualifying with Iceland, Turkey, Albania and Moldova.
Defending European champion Portugal was drawn in Group B alongside Ukraine, Serbia, Lithuania and Luxembourg.
Italy, which failed to qualify for the World Cup, is in Group J with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia and Liechtenstein.
Belgium, FIFA’s top-ranked team which reached the World Cup semifinals, will return to Russia in Group I and also face Scotland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and San Marino.
Spain, the 2008 and 2012 European champion, is in Group F with Sweden, Norway, Romania, Malta and the Faeroe Islands.
Croatia, which reached the World Cup final for the first time in July, is in Group E with Wales, Slovakia, Hungary and Azerbaijan.
Group D consists of Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Georgia and Gibraltar. Rob Harris, Dublin, AP