The FAI will have been quietly pleased with the outcome of the draw for the Euro 2016 qualifiers announced in Nice, France on Sunday.
Ireland are placed in a challenging group with Germany, Poland, Scotland, Georgia and Gibraltar joining them in Group D, the memory of Ireland’s recent encounters with Germany in their World Cup qualifying group still fresh in the memory. Behind the obvious threat posed by the Germans is a solid pairing of Poland and Scotland, two teams that will certainly test Martin O’Neill and his players, the FAI on the other hand should find few problems in filling the Aviva Stadium for the majority of Ireland’s home games.
One positive for Martin O’Neill will be that Ireland should have a degree of familiarity with both Scotland particularly Poland, after recent meetings between the sides. Ireland faced the Poles twice in 2013, winning 2-0 at home in a slightly ragged performance at the start of the year, with the second ending in an uninspiring goalless draw. Ireland’s victory in the ill-fated Carling Nations Cup in 2011 included a 1-0 home win over Scotland, and although games between the two nations have been sparse, Ireland’s recent record generally makes for positive reading.
The English FA meanwhile will have greeted the draw with slightly more tepid response. England have been grouped with the largely uninspiring quintet of Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino. Not the most demanding of groups certainly, but Wembley will surely be used for all home matches, and it is hard to imagine the likes of Estonia and San Marino eliciting much of a response with the English fanbase, and the FA will know they have their work cut out to fill the 90,000 seater stadium for several of England’s less demanding home games. Still, progress for the English to another major tournament should be relatively serene, with Switzerland, who were highly impressive in qualifying top of their group for this years World Cup likely to pose the biggest threat.
|Group A Winner|
|Group B Winner|
|Group D Winner|
|Group E Winner|
|Group F Winner|
|Group G Winner|