herald

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Explainer: How draw works and who Ireland could meet

ABSENT: Mick McCarthy. Pic: Getty Images
ABSENT: Mick McCarthy. Pic: Getty Images

The Republic of Ireland have to pass through two playoff games if they are to reach the Euro 2020 finals but today's draw for the tournament outright will let Mick McCarthy know who his side would face next summer, if they can beat Slovakia and one of Bosnia or Northern Ireland.

So here is the lowdown on the draw.

When and where is the draw?: The draw takes place at 5pm Irish time today at ROMEXPO exhibition centre in Bucharest. The Romanian capital is one of 12 cities hosting matches in next summer's pan-European event.

Is the draw being televised?: It will be screened live on RTE 2 TV and BBC Two at 5pm with live updates on independent.ie

What is the format?: The tournament, like Euro 2016, will feature 24 teams. Twenty have already secured their places, the final four will be determined by play-off matches in March next year. There will be six groups, each containing four teams.

The top two teams from each group qualify for the round of 16, with the four best third-placed teams joining them.

Who can Ireland get?: We know that the Republic of Ireland will be in Group E, where matches will be played in Dublin (2) and Bilbao.

Spain are the top seeds in that group. The second seeds will be one of France/Poland/Switzerland/Croatia.

Third seeds will be one of Portugal/Turkey/Austria/Sweden/Czech Republic.

Is Mick McCarthy there?: Managers of the playoff teams yet to qualify were not obliged to attend by UEFA. Donal Conway and Noel Mooney will head the FAI delegation.

England have already been placed in Group D, and will play their three group stage matches at Wembley. They will definitely be joined by the team which wins play-off Path C, which contains Scotland along with Israel, Norway and Serbia. If Scotland make it in March, they will play two matches at Hampden Park but would have to face England at Wembley.

What about Wales?: Due to a variety of factors, Wales can only be placed in Group A or B in Saturday's draw, and they will be in Pot 4 for the draw alongside first-time qualifiers Finland and the four unknown play-off winners. Group A features Italy, who will play all of their group matches in Rome. The other Group A venue is Baku, which would mean some long journeys for Wales' travelling fans. If Ryan Giggs' side are drawn into Group B, they would definitely face Belgium, Russia and Denmark. Group B games will be played in Copenhagen and St Petersburg.

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