By Alan Duffy
The EURO 2016 qualifying campaign is yet to finish but already plans for afoot for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. On Saturday afternoon in St. Petersburg, the draw was made for the qualifying stages with some intriguing combinations thrown up.
Most fascinating of all is Group F, which sees England go head to head with Scotland. The presence of Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta makes this a rather unpredictable group (beyond England’s qualification, which shouldn’t be too difficult). The last time the Three Lions met the Scots came back in the 2013-14 season, with Roy Hodgson’s charges winning 3-2 at Wembley as well as registering a 3-1 victory away at Celtic Park.
Group D also throws up a couple of mouth-watering Home Nations clashes, with the upwardly mobile Welsh facing the Republic of Ireland. Odd Home Nation out, Northern Ireland, face a rather tricky Group C, alongside holders Germany and the Czech Republic.
With nine group winners qualifying and the eight runners-up with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups, making it to play-offs, it’s going to be a fascinating campaign for every team involved.
Here’s the European draw in full. Groups A and G look particular tasty…
Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, Luxembourg
Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra
Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan, San Marino
Wales , Austria, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Moldova, Georgia
Romania, Denmark, Poland, Montenegro, Armenia, Kazakhstan
England, Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta
Spain, Italy, Albania, Israel, FYR Macedonia, Liechtenstein
Belgium, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus
Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland
Photos: Getty Images