After seeing Germany drawn at Euro 2020 with France and Portugal, Oliver Bierhoff was frustrated and fearful about his country’s prospects.
“Another nightmare,” the Germany team general manager said. “It is the worst possibility we could catch.” The memories are still raw of Germany’s humiliation at the 2018 World Cup, where their title defence ended in the group stage.
Germany open against World Cup holders France on June 16 before taking on European champions Portugal four days later. “I didn’t want to pick these teams,” said Bierhoff, whose goal clinched the European Championships final for Germany at Wembley in 1996. “France is the best team in the world.” This time, at least, Germany will have home advantage, playing all Group F games in Munich as the 24-team tournament is spread across the continent for the first time, with 12 stadiums in 12 countries being used. Budapest is also being used for a game in Group F, which will be completed by a playoff winner.
Only the top two teams in each of the six groups are certain to qualify for the round of 16, along with the four top-performing third-placed sides.
The newly complicated nature of qualifying means four of the six groups won’t have their final teams confirmed until after the playoffs in March.
It might get even tougher for the Group F runners-up, who could meet England.
That is if Gareth Southgate’s side use the home advantage of playing all three Group D games at Wembley to top the standings.
England open with a June 14 reunion with Croatia, who won their 2018 World Cup semifinal but lost to them later in the year in the Nations League. England also face the Czech Republic, the only country to beat Gareth Southgate’s side in Euro 2020 qualifying.
Glasgow’s Hampden Park is paired with the London stadium in Group D but Scotland have to qualify by beating Israel and either Norway or Serbia.
Wembley is the main venue for Euro 2020, with seven games including the semifinals and July 12 final. The tournament will open with Italy hosting Turkey in Rome on June 12. Group A also features Switzerland and Wales, who have to play their first two games in the Azerbaijan capital Baku before the team led by Gareth Bale finish in Rome against the hosts.Belgium were due to host games in Brussels but lost out to Wembley because a new stadium project could not get approval. Instead, Belgium will have to open against Russia in St Petersburg and play Denmark in Copenhagen. Roberto Martinez’s side round off Group B in Russia against Finland, who have qualified for a major tournament for the first time. Spain have all three games at home in Bilbao, and open in Group E against Sweden on June 15, then Poland and a playoff winner.
Netherlands are in Amsterdam throughout Group C, opening against Ukraine on June 14 and then Austria and a playoff winner.