The ex­plainer: How the draw works and who Ire­land could meet

Irish Independent - - Sport | Soccer - Ai­dan Fitz­mau­rice

THE Repub­lic of Ire­land have to pass through two play-off games if they are to reach the Euro 2020 fi­nals but to­day’s draw for the tour­na­ment outright will let Mick McCarthy know who his side would face next sum­mer, if they can beat Slo­vakia and one of Bos­nia or North­ern Ire­land. So here is the low­down on the draw.

When and where is the draw?

The draw takes place at 5pm Ir­ish time to­day at ROM­EXPO ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre in Bucharest. The Ro­ma­nian cap­i­tal is one of 12 cities host­ing matches in next sum­mer’s pan-Euro­pean event.

Is the draw be­ing tele­vised?

It will be screened live on RTÉ 2 TV and BBC Two at 5.0 with live up­dates on in­de­pen­dent.ie.

What is the for­mat?

The tour­na­ment, like Euro 2016, will fea­ture 24 teams. Twenty have al­ready se­cured their places, the fi­nal four will be de­ter­mined by play-off matches in March next year. There will be six groups, each con­tain­ing four teams. The top two teams from each group qual­ify for the round of 16, with the four best third-placed teams join­ing them.

Who can Ire­land get?

We know that the Repub­lic of Ire­land will be in Group E, where matches will be played in Dublin (2) and Bil­bao. Spain are the top seeds in that group. The sec­ond seeds will be one of France/Poland/Switzer­land/Croa­tia. Third seeds will be one of Por­tu­gal/ Tur­key/Aus­tria/Swe­den/Czech Repub­lic.

Is Mick McCarthy there? Man­agers of the play-off teams yet to qual­ify were not obliged to at­tend by UEFA. Donal Con­way and Noel Mooney head the FAI del­e­ga­tion.

Is any team pre-de­ter­mined? Eng­land have al­ready been placed in Group D, and will play their three group stage matches at Wem­b­ley. They will def­i­nitely be joined by the team which wins play-off Path C, which con­tains Scot­land along with Is­rael, Nor­way and Ser­bia. If Scot­land make it in March, they will play two matches at Ham­p­den Park but would have to face Eng­land at Wem­b­ley.

What about Wales?

Due to a va­ri­ety of fac­tors, Wales can only be placed in Group A or B, and they will be in Pot 4 along­side first­time qual­i­fiers Fin­land and the four un­known play-off win­ners. Group A fea­tures Italy, who will play all of their group matches in Rome. The other Group A venue is Baku.

If Ryan Giggs’ side are drawn into Group B, they would def­i­nitely face Bel­gium, Rus­sia and Den­mark. Group B games will be played in Copen­hagen and St Peters­burg.

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