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Euro 2020 qualifiers: Tough luck for Central European teams

Dublin, Ireland – The European qualifiers draw took place this week-end in Dublin. Here’s everything you need to know to root for your favorite teams and players.

How does it work?

Over fifty teams were put into ten different groups. The top two teams of each group – twenty finalists – will qualify to the final tournament via the conventional groups. Four additional teams will come through a changed play-off system, contested by the 16 UEFA Nations League group winners. The qualifiers will take place between March and November 2019, and none of the host nations will gain automatic qualification.

The 2020 Euro final tournament will take place from June 12 to July 12, 2020, in twelve different countries across Europe. The matches will be held in the cities of London (England), Munich (Germany), Baku (Azerbaijan), Rome (Italy), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Bilbao (Spain), Bucharest (Romania), Budapest (Hungary), Copenhagen (Denmark), Dublin (Ireland) and Glasgow (Scotland).

You can find the exact timetable and dates of the matches here.

What to expect for Central European teams?

Both Slovakia and Hungary will have to face each other in the Group E. Their task won’t be easy against Croatia, who reached the 2018 World Cup finals last summer after beating England in the semi-finals before losing to France, Wales and Azerbaijan. The Hungarian team only qualified for the final tournament in 1968, when it reached the quarter-finals, and has since then always lost during the preliminary and qualifying rounds. Winner of the 1976 Euro under the Czechoslovak banner, Slovakia  only qualified once for the final tournament since 1993, two years ago when the Slovak team was beaten by Germany in the quarter-finals. Many credit this break-through to former coach Jan Kozak, who recently handed his unexpected resignation after he found players partying following a defeat against the Czech Republic.

Gathered in the Group A with England, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo, the Czech Republic won’t have an easy qualifying round but nonetheless has good chances to reach the final tournament, as it has done at every championship since 1993. The Czech Republic even reached the final (1996), semi-finals (2004) and quarter-finals (2012), and thus appear as the strongest contender for Central Europe.

And finally, Poland will have to face Austria, Israel, Slovenia, Macedonia and Latvia in the group G. Although the Polish team traditionally doesn’t fare very well in major tournaments, they’ve been improving their performances in recent championships. Poland even reached the quarter-finals two years ago and only lost to Portugal, the final winner of the championship, on penalties.

Full Euro 2020 qualifiers draw

Group A: England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo

Group B: Portugal, Ukraine, Serbia, Lithuania, Luxembourg

Group C: Netherlands, Germany, Northern Ireland, Estonia, Belarus

Group D: Switzerland, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Georgia, Gibraltar

Group E: Croatia, Wales, Slovakia, Hungary, Azerbaijan

Group F: Spain, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Faroe Islands, Malta

Group G: Poland, Austria, Israel, Slovenia, Macedonia, Latvia

Group H: France, Iceland, Turkey, Albania, Moldova, Andorra

Group I: Belgium, Russia, Scotland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, San Marino

Group J: Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein

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