Swedes draw Dutch and Finns in Euro 2012 qualifiers
AFP/The Local · 7 Feb 2010, 19:11
Published: 07 Feb 2010 19:11 GMT+01:00
Holland, who won the European Championships in 1988, knocked Sweden out of the 2004 World Cup at the quarter final stage and will be hoping for a similar outcome when the teams do battle for a place in the tournament to be held in the Ukraine and Poland.
Sweden will also meet a Finnish side keen to get one up on their illustrious neighbours, a Hungarian team hungry to avenge recent defeats, as well as Moldova and minnows San Marino in qualifying Group E.
Fabio Capello's England will face old rivals Wales in their Euro 2012 qualification campaign after the draw was made in Warsaw on Sunday.
England have drawn John Toshack's Wales side in Group G as well as Montenegro, Bulgaria and Switzerland for a place at Euro 2012 with the qualifiers set to begin this September and finish in November 2011.
"Wales is a really good team, very young and a derby is never a normal game," said Capello whose side are ranked 9th in the world according to FIFA with Toshack's Wales team listed as 77th.
The Welsh failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup in South Africa, but the Italian will not be taking the Welsh lightly with plenty of sporting rivallry between the two British nations.
Switzerland, under ex-Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, are ranked 18th by FIFA while Bulgaria could also present the Three Lions with some problems.
"I think every game will be really tough," added Capello.
"(We will face) really good teams.
"It'll be really interesting and impossible for us to relax in any game.
"We'll have to stay focused."
Euro 2008 winners Spain, who beat Germany 1-0 to claim the Henri Delauney trophy in Vienna on June 29, 2008, face arguably their biggest test against the Czech Republic as well as Scotland, Lithuania and Liechtenstein in Group I.
Germany coach Joachim Löw is confident of making the finals after his side drew Belgium as well as neighbours Austria, plus Euro 2008 semi-finalists Turkey, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in Group A.
"We are favourites in this group along with Turkey and I think we will qualify for Euro 2012," said Löw
Current World Cup holders Italy, who had a poor Euro 2008 campaign by their own standards, have drawn World Cup qualifiers Serbia, as well as Slovenia, Estonia, the Faroe Islands and Northern Ireland in Group C.
"Italy's group is very even with Serbia and Slovenia, two teams who will compete at the World Cup," said Italy coach Marcello Lippi.
"We have the advantage of being in a six team group. Of the other groups, England's is the most the difficult."
World Cup runners-up France, who had drawn the Republic of Ireland in Saturday's practice draw, are up against Romania, Belarus, Albania, Luxembourg and Bosnia-Herzegovina in Group D.
French football federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes considered the group a tricky one for France.
"There's everything to play for," he said.
"We have to be wary of this very balanced group. We'll be playing old foes Romania. It's very mixed since we haven't beaten them in a long time," said Escalettes.
"Belarus have made huge progress, Bosnia are always difficult. Luxembourg beat Switzerland, who have qualified for the World Cup. The only thing we're happy about is that we won't have to travel far or deal with time zones."
The Republic of Ireland, who missed out on a place at this summer's World Cup after losing to France in a qualifier in Paris last November despite a clear handball from Thierry Henry, have drawn Russia.
The Irish and Russians are joined in Group B by Armenia, Andorra, FYR Macedonia and Slovakia.
Euro 2008 quarter-finalists Croatia under coach Slaven Bilic will have Euro 2004 winners Greece to overcome in Group F, where they have also drawn Malta, Georgia, Latvia and Israel.
Denmark, who were crowned champions of Europe in 1992, face Portugal in Group H along with Iceland, Cyprus and Norway.
The Euro 2012 finals will take place from June 8 to July 1 2012 in eight host cities - four in each of the two countries - with the final set to be held in Kiev.
The winners of the nine groups and the best runner-up qualify directly for the final tournament.
The eight remaining runners-up will have to battle it out in play-off matches to decide which teams grab the remaining four tickets.