The anticipation has been running high around the pubs in England, with the draw for the 2016 European Championships happening earlier on Sunday morning. The Three Lions are brimming to get another shot at European glory after falling on penalties to eventual finalists Italy in the quarterfinals of the 2012 tournament.
England knew that they were in line for a favorable draw after being seeded in Pot 1 alongside fellow European powerhouses Spain, Netherlands, Italy and Germany. Their spot in Pot 1 would make sure that England would not be matched up with these nations — a very welcome sight for England supporters looking to avoid missing out on the tournament like in 2008.
Even with some of the dangerous nations in the lower pots, England came away with a pretty favorable draw than what could have been. Roy Hodgson‘s squad will be matched up with Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino.
Switzerland is actually the highest ranked team in this group according to the FIFA World Rankings, coming in at sixth with England at 15 and Slovenia at 27. England fans will not be worried, as they have not lost to Switzerland since May 30, 1981, though this Switzerland team is much more dangerous than those of years’ past.
Qualification for the final tournament looks much more likely given the expansion from 16 to 24 teams. The top two nations from each group will advance automatically to France 2016 alongside the top third place team, while the rest of the third place nations will participate in a playoff round in November 2015 to determine the final four spots.
Both Switzerland and England are participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this coming summer and they will also be the favorites to qualify automatically for France 2016. There may be some tough roads for third place, but Slovenia will be a heavy favorite over Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino; though Estonia did finish ahead of Slovenia in qualification for Euro 2012. Lithuania will be looking to try and steal a result from the top teams in the group while San Marino will be looking for a goal — they have only scored five goals in their last 48 European Championship qualifying matches.