Hosts to feature in 2016 qualifying

England could face tournament hosts France in their Euro 2016 qualifying group under a radical rule change from UEFA.

Last Updated: 23/01/14 at 17:04 Post Comment

Roy Hodgson: May have to face France ahead of Euro 2016

Roy Hodgson: May have to face France ahead of Euro 2016

France will be the first host nation to take part in a European Championships qualification phase.

Les Bleus will retain automatic tournament qualification, with their group-stage contests serving as friendlies where no points will be awarded.

The regulation shift means France will be added to the group-stage draw, creating nine pools of six teams. Previous competitions have had eight pools of six teams and one comprising five.

UEFA will confirm the six seeding pots on Friday, ahead of the pool-stage draw in Nice on February 23.

UEFA's new rule is outlined in Euro 2016 regulation article 21.02, which reads: "The teams drawn into the group of five teams will have France added to their group for the purpose of playing centralised friendlies."

England could face star-studded Belgium, Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland or even familiar opponents Croatia or Sweden, should they fall into top-tier Pot 1 as expected.

UEFA will confirm the seeding positions after their two-day executive committee meeting in Nyon, Switzerland.

Roy Hodgson's England should be named among the top seeds courtesy of their unbeaten record in securing automatic qualification for World Cup 2014.

Croatia, who blocked England's qualification to Euro 2008, could face England again, if they end up in Pot 2 as expected.

Home and away qualifying ties against manager O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane's Ireland would be bound to stir a few souls.

Ireland would certainly relish an opportunity at a scalp as they seek to capitalise on the good feeling generated by their new taskmaster management duo.

England though, could be forgiven for being more concerned about the prospect of facing Belgium.

Chelsea's Everton loanee Romelu Lukaku and Stamford Bridge playmaker Eden Hazard are the tip of an increasingly accomplished iceberg for the Belgians, led by Manchester City talisman Vincent Kompany.

Gibraltar, accepted as a separate UEFA member state after winning a court of arbitration in sport ruling, will be among the countries in the draw for the first time.

It is understood UEFA will aim to keep Gibraltar and Spain apart in the qualifying draw, the fixture among those the governing body aim to avoid due to political sensitivity.


New Sky Bet customers: Free matched bet up to £30


Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

C

heck Opta stats.... Sterling is already better than Alexis on pace and creativity and when he can match him physically he will be ten times the player Sanchez ever was or will be!!

hoggylfc
Rodgers: Sterling can be striker

I

expect Pulis to have a nice Christmas dinner with his family- probably all sitting around the table wearing Christmas themed baseball caps, before he gets the call. Realistically he could end up at any number of clubs, it'll be interesting to see which club folds first.

mark.m
For Foxes' Sake, Call The Pulis...

A

s a Liverpool fan, I personally hate Palace. My pick would probably be Arsenal, which is funny because it seems the vast majority of their own fans don't even like them right now.

mark.m
Who Has Got The Likeability Factor?

Footer 365

Premier League: Mario Balotelli handed one-match ban for social media post

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has been given a one-match ban by the FA after his controversial post on social media.

Premier League: Agent confirms Hatem Ben Arfa is poised for a January transfer

Hatem Ben Arfa is set for a January move after finding himself unwanted at Newcastle and Hull, his agent has confirmed.

Liverpool: Kolo Toure says Adam Lallana is player of season

Kolo Toure has named Adam Lallana as Liverpool's player of the season despite Raheem Sterling's eye-catching form.

Mail Box

Gonna Party Like It's Your Birthday...

There are an awful lot of folk claiming to share their birthdays with Lionel Messi or Ronaldo, while we have an Arsenal fan who doesn't want to be liked and more...

Manager Of The Month, My A***...

We have a Newcastle fan having a pop at his manager, some mild reaction to last night at Bournemouth, a justication of that Falcao cost and why the Neviller rules...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property