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Expanded field sets up easier qualifying paths
February 23rd, 2014 3:10PM

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TAGS:  european championship

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[EURO 2016 DRAW] With the final tournament expanded from 16 to 24 teams, the 2016 European Championship draw has lost much of its intrigue. With 53 teams entered -- including newcomer Gibraltar -- that means more than 40 percent of the qualifying field will join host France in the finals.

Recently, second-place finishers in European qualifying competitions have typically had to sweat out two-leg playoffs to advance to the finals. For Euro 2016, the nine group winners and nine group runners-up will advance automatically, but in addition the top third-place team will qualify and the eight third-place teams will meet in playoffs to decide the remaining four finalists.

Four groups have two World Cup 2014 finalists -- Group B (Bosnia-Herzegovina and Belgium), Group E (England and Switzerland, which England coach Roy Hodgson coached at the 1994 World Cup) and Group H (Italy and Croatia).

The 10 matchdays will take place over FIFA fixture dates in 2014 and 2015: one in September 2014, November 2014, March 2015 and June 2015 and two in October 2014, September 2015 and October 2015.



Qualifying Draw:
GROUP A
Netherlands
Czech Republic
Turkey
Latvia
Iceland
Kazakhstan

GROUP B
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Belgium
Israel
Wales
Cyprus
Andorra

GROUP C
Spain
Ukraine
Slovakia
Belarus
Macedonia
Luxembourg

GROUP D
Germany
Ireland
Poland
Scotland
Georgia
Gibraltar

GROUP E
England
Switzerland
Slovenia
Estonia
Lithuania
San Marino

GROUP F
Greece
Hungary
Romania
Finland
Northern Ireland
Faroe Islands

GROUP G
Russia
Sweden
Austria
Montenegro
Moldova
Liechtenstein

GROUP H
Italy
Croatia
Norway
Bulgaria
Azerbaijan
Malta

GROUP I
Portugal
Denmark
Serbia
Armenia
Albania


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