Big pants energy from this draw
The European qualifying groups for the 2022 World Cup in sunny Qatar – I’m christening it the Feelgood World Cup – have just been drawn, and this is how the balls came out (home nations plus Ireland highlighted):
Group A: Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
Group B: Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo
Group C: Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania
Group D: France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan
Group E: Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia
Group F: Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova
Group G: Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, Gibraltar
Group H: Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta
Group I: England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino
Group J: Germany, Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein
Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski will fancy scoring a lot of goals in Group I. A LOT. Hungary are improving, but a triple decker of minnows Albania, Andorra and San Marino looks very tasty indeed. It’s a tidy draw for England and the Poles.
That’s a tough five-team group for Wales, with top-ranked nation Belgium in the starring role.
Scotland will be happy with that draw, but Denmark, Austria and Israel are no mugs. It’s perhaps a stiffer group than I first thought, but the Scots are good enough to make it to the finals.
Northern Ireland will do well to get out of Group C, with Italy and the Swiss in their way. I can’t see it.
The Rep. of Ireland will quietly fancy their chances against everyone in Group A, Portugal included. It’s far from the worst draw they could have had, but it will be tough.
Fun fact: Spain doesn’t officially recognise Group B opponents Kosovo as a country.
There is no obvious Group of Death. Group G could be it, as the Dutch won’t fancy away trips to Turkey and Norway.
Also, flag bantz ahoy! …
Well Group H is a fucking flag nightmare… pic.twitter.com/5nauSVrXmP
— Stoppage Time Winner (@stoppagetimewin) December 7, 2020