The draw for the 2016 European Championship qualification will take place this Sunday. At approximately 11:00am GMT Sunday, England will find out the 5 nations that stand in their way of competing in France. We'll be hoping for a kind draw to ensure our progress, and luckily as a top seed we will automatically avoid Spain, Germany, Holland, Italy and Portugal.
There are some key aspects to this draw to look out for.
- England will not be drawn into the group that consists of just 5 teams for television rights. France will make up the numbers for that group even though they will qualify regardless of their results as the host nation.
- As a result, England will avoid playing France in the qualification group.
- It is the first time in history that a host nation has competed in the group stage, this is due to the fact the host nation often finds it hard to find friendlies to contest in the international breaks.
- Gibralter will take part in it's first qualification after being accepted by FIFA as a recognised nation last year.
- However Spain and Gibralter will be kept apart in the qualification process because of the heightened political tensions between the two countries.
- Azerbaijan and Armenia will also be kept apart due to political tensions between the two counties.
- Russia and Georgia have agreed to play each other if drawn into the same group, despite no longer having diplomatic ties following conflict in 2008.
- You must finish either 1st or 2nd in your qualifying group to automatically qualify for the 2016 tournament.
- The best 3rd place finisher will also qualify automatically.
- The remaining 8 3rd place finishers will go into a two-legged play-off system with the 4 winners qualifying for the tournament.
- From the 7th of September 2014, to the 13th of October 2015
- Play-offs to be held over two legs in November 2015
- Draw for the main tournament to be held on the 12th of December 2015.
Full list of seedings:
Pot 1: Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, Portugal, Greece, Russia, Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Pot 2: Ukraine, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Republic of Ireland.
Pot 3: Serbia, Turkey, Slovenia, Israel, Norway, Slovakia, Romania, Austria, Poland.
Pot 4: Montenegro, Armenia, Scotland, Finland, Latvia, Wales, Bulgaria, Estonia, Belarus.
Pot 5: Iceland, Northern Ireland, Albania, Lithuania, Moldova, FYR Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Cyprus.
Pot 6: Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Faroe Islands, Malta, Andorra, San Marino, Gibraltar.
Example of Worst Possible Group
England, Belgium, Poland, Montenegro, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan
Three good teams, and then a tricky team in Montenegro with a lot of travel involved. Also right the Eastern European teams quite hard to play against some times. No thanks!
Example of Best Possible Group
England, Hungary, Slovenia, Latvia, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar
England by far the best team, some closer ties with the new minnows on the block and no real difficult trips.