England handed ‘kind’ Euro draw
FOOTBALL: England appear to have been granted a comfortable-looking passage to Euro 2020.
Gareth Southgate’s men, who reached the World Cup semifinals in the summer, will take on the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo next year to reach the finals, which will be staged in cities across the continent.
Northern Ireland were handed an extremely toughlooking draw and will face Holland and Germany, as well as Estonia and Belarus in Group C.
The Republic of Ireland had initially been drawn into Group C but could not take a place there 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. England have only beaten them once, drawing the other three encounters.