The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) organized the Euro 2020 qualifying draw for 55 European national football (soccer) teams, including three countries in the Caspian Sea region, namely Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia.
The draw, which took place in Dublin on Sunday, saw 55 teams placed in 10 qualifying groups with five groups of five teams and five groups of six teams. Azerbaijan will be taking on Croatia, Wales, Hungary and Slovakia in Group E. Russia and Kazakhstan will be rivals in Group I, in which they will be seeking a Euro 2020 ticket also against Belgium, Scotland, Cyprus and San Marino.
“We have some familiarity with each team in our group,” Rovnag Abdullayev, president of the Azerbaijan Football Federations Association said right after the draw, according to Report. "However, football is a dynamic, progressive sport,” he added. “And I am sure that we will be witnessing exciting games at the Euro 2020 qualifying round.”
Defender of the Russian national team Andrei Semenov commented on his team’s qualifying chances against Belgium, which he called an obvious favorite of Group I.
“Belgium is an obvious favorite, but the group is even and interesting. I think Russia should qualify from the group [for play-offs], I hope we will fight with the Belgians for the first place,” Semenov said, according to Championat.com.
The Euro 2020 qualifying group stage games will take place over 10 days. The first games will be held on March 21 and the last on November 19 in 2019. Every team in a group will play each other twice at home and away. The top two teams in each group, meaning 20 squads altogether, will automatically book a place in the 24-spot Euro 2020 finals. The remaining four will be incorporated from the playoffs of the UEFA Nations League tournament that will be held in March of 2020.
Euro 2020 – the ultimate soccer championship for European national teams – will take place from June 12 to July 12 in 12 cities across the continent. This year’s event will for the first time span the entire continent instead of games played in a single host country, and for the second time feature 24 teams than 16 nations in previous editions.
Azerbaijan and Russia will host three group games and one quarterfinal game, alongside Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Romania, England, Scotland, Spain, Ireland, Germany and Hungary. Three Group A matches will take place at Olympic Stadium in Baku. Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg will host three games for Group B.
The opening game of Euro 2020 will be held in Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Wembley Stadium in London will host the final match to decide the winners of the title, which was claimed by Portugal in 2016. Euro 2020 qualifying round groups are as follows:
GROUP A: England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo
GROUP B: Portugal, Ukraine, Serbia, Lithuania, Luxembourg
GROUP C: Netherlands, Germany, Northern Ireland, Estonia, Belarus
GROUP D: Switzerland, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Georgia, Gibraltar
GROUP E: Croatia, Wales, Slovakia, Hungary, Azerbaijan
GROUP F: Spain, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Faroe Islands, Malta
GROUP G: Poland, Austria, Israel, Slovenia, FYR Macedonia, Latvia
GROUP H: France, Iceland, Turkey, Albania, Moldova, Andorra
GROUP I: Belgium, Russia, Scotland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, San Marino
GROUP J: Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein