The great and the good of European football congregated in Kiev for the draw of the groups for Euro.
As usually UEFA had plenty of ceremonial pomp and a little bit of silly dancing, but the teams were eventually selected from their respective pots. And England have landed a relatively favourable group alongside joint hosts Ukraine, France and Sweden in Group D.
Fabio Capello (and England fans) will be relieved to have avoided the Netherlands and Spain and will see qualification to the knockout stages as well within reach, even without the suspended Wayne Rooney. Despite having their group games in the Ukraine, Capello has ruled out moving England’s training camp from Krakow in Poland, meaning his team will face journeys of almost 1000 miles for two of the three matches and 500 miles for the other.
England’s first game will be against France on 11th June on Donetsk, before which they have a friendly match against the Netherlands, which has been rearranged from the match cancelled due to the London riots.
The Republic of Ireland have – on paper – a much tougher task than England. They were drawn in Group C alongside reigning champions Spain, Italy and Croatia, enough to rattle the nerves of the bravest of teams. FAI chief executive, John Delaney, is not overawed, however. He told BBC Sport, “I’m delighted for the supporters. We are not in the tournament to make up the numbers, we will give it a go.” And the Irish will certainly not roll over for any opponent and will be a danger to the more fancied teams in the group.
Group B is the ‘group of death’ with the Netherlands up against their fierce rivals Germany, along with Portugal and Denmark. While Poland (the other hosts) are joined in Group A by Greece, Russia and the Czech Republic.
Euro 2012 Finals Groups
Republic of Ireland