UEFA European Champions qualifying draw

Germany

Gareth Southgate's men appear to have been granted a comfortable-looking passage to Euro 2020. You could say the group is less hard because Germany are not there but that would not be true.

Group A, featuring England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo, would arguably have been a more favourable draw for McCarthy's team.

England has a seemingly smooth path to the finals, when it will host two games in the group stage at Wembley and then could lift the trophy at its national stadium.

I'm not saying our group's easier but Netherlands and Germany would have been a really tough ask.

According to the former Millwall forward, Ireland are nearly bound to improve under McCarthy because the team will be much better prepared in training and will have a plan to stop the opposition.

All four teams who will play in Portugal next summer in the Nations League were given groups of five, as were Croatia, but the rest of the groups are teams of six.

"When England come to Pristina it will be the biggest event in the history of football in Kosovo", Kosovo coach Bernard Challandes said.

Wales face World Cup finalists Croatia, Scotland, who also have a play-off to look forward to if they don't qualify, are joined by Belgium and Russian Federation and Republic of Ireland are up against Switzerland and Denmark, who beat them in qualification for last summer's World Cup.

France, which won the World Cup in July and lost the Euro 2016 final on home soil, is in qualifying with Iceland, Turkey, Albania and Moldova.

Our Belgian trio of Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen could face young winger Anthony Georgiou when the Red Devils meet Cyprus in Group I. Russia, Scotland, Kazakhstan and San Marino are also in their pool.

Elsewhere three-times champions Spain were drawn in Group F with Sweden, Norway and Romania.

Group J: Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein.

The motivation in qualifying is not just the game in hand but thinking about what it leads to.

The winners and runners up from each of the twelve groups will progress to the 24-team tournament.

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