Can Gareth’s brave boys go all the way this time?
It was a strange time to have a draw - on Sunday morning and on a day when it was quickly overshadowed by the three thrilling derby games that took place later - so you might have missed it, but England’s qualifying group for Euro 2020 has been unveiled.
On the back of the Three Lion’s unexpectedly superb performance in the World Cup, where they reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1990, and their subsequent group-winning performance in the inaugural Nations League, hopes are high that England could do well in the Euros this time around - particularly considering that the finals will see a large number of matches take place at Wembley.
Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know.
What’s the format, and how do you qualify?
The draw took place in Dublin and saw 55 teams divvied up into 10 groups, half with 5 teams, and half with 6. Each team will play each other home and away.
The winner and runner-up of each group will qualify automatically. The remaining four places will be filled by the winners of play-offs, which will feature sixteen teams.
As there is no host of the finals, no team will qualify automatically, while Kosovo are taking part for the first time in their history.
When will matches take place?
All the qualifiers take place in a more condensed period than previously: between March and November 2019.
How does the Nations League play into this?
The Nations League standings will determine who goes into the play-offs for those additional 4 spots.
Each of the 16 group winners of the Nations League will go into the play-offs. However, if they qualify via traditional qualifying, then the next best-placed team in the group will get the play-off spot instead.
Therefore, England and Scotland are already guaranteed at least a play-off spot, regardless of how they perform in qualifying, as they won their Nations League groups.
The other group winners were: Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Ukraine, Sweden, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Serbia, Georgia, Belarus, Kosovo, Macedonia. These teams will all claim at least a play-off spot.
How do the play-offs work?
The 16 teams that eventually qualify for the play-offs will be split into four groups. Each group will play two one-off semi-finals and one one-off final, meaning that these are likely to be hugely tense affairs. The matches will take place between 26 and 31 March 2020.
Where and when are the finals?
The Euro 2020 finals will take place across Europe, in 12 cities in 12 European countries from 12 June to 12 July 2020.
Wembley Stadium will host both semi-finals and the final, as well as three group matches and a round of 16 match which it claimed from Brussels after its stadium project was hit by delays and uncertainty.
The full match schedule is here.
How do I get tickets for the finals?
You can register your interest and sign up for updates here.
Who will England play in qualifying?
So, down to the action.
England were drawn in Group A, and will face the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Kosovo. There was a possibility that they could have been drawn in the same group as Germany, who have suffered from recent poor performances, but that danger was avoided.
How good are those teams?
England are currently ranked 5th in the world
Fifa ranking: 42
Recent tournament record: have not qualified for the World Cup since 2006, last Euro appearance was 2016, when they exited in the group stage. They have qualified for every Euro finals since the country’s creation in 1993, after previously competing as Czechoslovakia
Best Euro performance: Runners-up, 1996
Fifa ranking: 44
Recent tournament record: The team played their first international match in 2007, with their first competition being the 2010 World Cup. They have not qualified for any of the five competitions that they have entered.
Best Euro performance: In 2012, they finished second in their qualifying group behind England, with three wins and three draws from eight matches. However, they lost both play-off matches to the Czech Republic and failed to qualify.
Fifa ranking: 46
Recent tournament record: Have not qualified for the World Cup since 1998. Have no qualified for the Euros since 2004, when they exited in the group stage.
Best Euro performance: 1996, when they went out in the group stage, winning one game out of three.
Fifa ranking: 131
Recent tournament record: Kosovo played their first international match in 2010 but were only accepted into Fifa in 2016. They lost 9 of their 10 matches in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup
Best Euro performance: N/A
When are the matches?
Friday 22 March: England v Czech Republic, Bulgaria v Montenegro
Sunday 24 March: Montenegro v England, Kosovo v Bulgaria
Friday 7 June: Czech Republic v Bulgaria, Montenegro v Kosovo
Monday 10 June: Czech Republic v Montenegro, Bulgaria v Kosovo
Thursday 5 September: Kosovo v Czech Republic (15:00), England v Bulgaria (18:00)
Tuesday 10 September: England v Kosovo, Montenegro v Czech Republic
Friday 11 October: Czech Republic v England, Montenegro v Bulgaria
Monday 14 October: Bulgaria v England, Kosovo v Montenegro
Thursday 14 November: England v Montenegro, Czech Republic v Kosovo
Sunday 17 November: Kosovo v England (18:00), Bulgaria v Czech Republic (18:00)