Scotland begin Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in Germany

SCOTLAND will open their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with an away tie against Germany on Sunday, September 7 this year.

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Scotland assistants Stuart McCall and Mark McGhee were at Hampden to watch Gordon Strachan's reaction to the Euro 2016 draw
Scotland assistants Stuart McCall and Mark McGhee were at Hampden to watch Gordon Strachan's reaction to the Euro 2016 draw

Next up for Gordon Strachan's side will be a home game against Georgia on Saturday, October 11, quickly followed by a trip to Poland on Tuesday, October 14.

The Scots will line up against Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland on Friday, November 14. Into 2015, our next opponents will be newcomers Gibraltar on Sunday, March 29.

The return match with Ireland will be on Saturday, June 13, followed by Georgia away on Friday, September 4, Germany at home on Monday, September 7, Poland at home on Thursday, October 8 and the final game is Gibraltar away on Sunday, October 11, with the likely venue being Faro in Portugal as the newcomers' stadium will not be completed in time.

And, after today's draw in Nice, Strachan described himself as "excited" with the Group D line-up, saying: "Other groups might be a bit mundane, but this one has one of the best teams ever - the German side - and a new nation in the tournament in Gibraltar. It will be really tough for everyone in the group”

Strachan said that the four other teams would all think they have a chance of earning second place behind top seeds Germany.

"You've also got the Republic and the commercial managers of both will be jumping for joy with that one," he said.

In those ties, Strachan will face sometime golfing partner  O'Neill - the man he succeeded as Celtic manager - and Roy Keane, who he managed at Parkhead.

Asked for his reaction to being drawn against Ireland's management team, the Scotland boss said: "We are not playing each other - the players are. The two sets of supporters will turn it into a cup tie."

Strachan pointed out that the draw also adds spice to the already-arranged friendly against the Poles in Warsaw on March 5.

While the Scotland manager viewed it as a difficult group, his side are actually the second-strongest side according to the world rankings despite being in pot four for the draw.

Germany are ranked second, the Scots are 34th, Ireland 67th, Poland 70th and Georgia 103rd, while Gibraltar have yet to be ranked ahead of playing their first competitive fixture.

"The Germans might make one mistake, possibly two, but I don't think they have failed to qualify for a major tournament, so the rest of us will be looking for second place," said Strachan. "It will be really tough for everyone in the group."

For Sunday's draw in Nice, 53 competing nations were split into eight groups of six teams, with one group of five.

As fourth seeds, it meant the Scots could not be drawn against 2014 World Cup qualifying opponents Wales, as well as Montenegro, Armenia, Finland, Latvia, Bulgaria, Estonia or Belarus.

Germany were among the top seeds, with the Irish in the second pot, Poland among the third seeds, Georgia in the fifth pot and Gibraltar among the minnows.

Scotland have not qualified for a major finals since the 1998 World Cup, but Euro 2016 will be made up of 24 nations, an increase from 16 previously thanks to a proposal put forward by the Scottish and Irish football associations.

Ireland manager O'Neill thought it was ironic that his side should be drawn against the Scots considering it was their two football associations who first proposed the expansion.

"I think that anybody who looked at the draw would say it's as tough as they come," he said. "That said, it's still exciting. Even if you stretch down to pot five, where Georgia have come from, they can play a bit themselves.

"Germany being the outstanding side in the group, I still believe that points will be taken off each other, so I imagine it should remain exciting right until the end."

O'Neill was also relishing the match-up with Strachan.

"I'm sure he is looking forward to it," said the Ireland manager. "I'm sure he'll be as excited as I am myself."

Qualifying matches will be spread over six days rather than being played on just Fridays and Tuesdays.

Nations must finish in the top two in their group to qualify, with the best third-placed finisher also going to France automatically before the remaining eight third-placed teams go into the play-offs in November 2015.

The qualification period runs from September 7, 2014 until  October 13, 2015, with the play-offs held over two legs in November. The draw for the finals will be on December 12 with the competition starting on June 10, 2016.

Gibraltar were originally drawn in the same qualifying group as Spain but were moved into Scotland's group for political reasons.

Uefa had announced in December that Gibraltar and Spain would be kept apart amid continuing political tensions over the territory's sovereignty.

The territory, which has a population of 29,000, became a full member of Uefa last year.

Today's draw took place as three Royal Navy warships were set to dock in Gibraltar as the row between the UK and Spain over the Rock rumbled on.

HMS Westminster, HMS Brocklesby and HMS Daring were reportedly due to carry out patrols after a Spanish warship interrupted an elite forces training exercise last week.

GROUP D FIXTURES
2014
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
Georgia v Rep of Ireland (5.0)
Germany v SCOTLAND (7.45)
Gibraltar v Poland (7.45)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11
Rep of Ireland v Gibraltar (5.0)
Scotland v Georgia (5.0)
Poland v Germany (7.45)

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14
Geermany v Rep of Ireland (7.45)
Gibraltar v Georgia (7.45)
Poland v Scotland (7.45)

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14
Georgia v Poland (5.0)
Germany v Gibraltar (7.45)
Scotland v Rep of Ireland (7.45)

2015
SUNDAY, MARCH 29
Georgia v Germany (5.0)
Scotland v Gibraltar (5.0)
Rep of Ireland v Poland (7.45)

SATURDAY, JUNE 13
Poland v Georgia (5.0)
Rep of Ireland v Scotland (5.0)
Gibraltar v Germany (7.45)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4
Georgia v Scotland (5.0)
Germany v Poland (7.45)
Gibraltar v Rep of Ireland (7.45)

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
Poland v Gibraltar (7.45)
Rep of Ireland v Georgia (7.45)
Scotland v Germany (7.45)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8
Georgia v Gibraltar (5.0)
Rep of Ireland v Germany (7.45)
Scotland v Poland (7.45)

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11
Germany v Georgia (7.45)
Gibraltar v Scotland (7.45)
Poland v Rep of Ireland (7.45)
Kick-off times subject to change

 

FULL DRAW:

Group A: Holland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, Kazakhstan

Group B: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Israel, Wales, Cyprus, Andorra

Group C: Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, Macedonia, Luxembourg

Group D: Germany, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, Gibraltar

Group E: England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino

Group F: Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands

Group G: Russia, Sweden, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova, Liechtenstein

Group H: Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta

Group I: Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, Albania

France qualify as hosts, but will play friendlies against teams in Group I. There will be no points awarded for games in which France figure, so these will have no affect on the Group I table.

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