Defending champion Spain gets Czechs in Euro draw

WARSAW, Poland — Defending champion Spain will have the Czech Republic and Scotland among its rivals in qualifying for the 2012 European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.

By (AP)

Published: Sun 7 Feb 2010, 7:02 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:05 AM

Lithuania and Liechtenstein completed Group I in Sunday’s draw, meaning Spain, the top-ranked team in the world, will not have to face any team that qualified for this year’s World Cup in South Africa.

Germany, the runner-up to Spain in 2008, were placed with Turkey and neighboring Austria in Group A. Germany beat both teams on the way to the final, including a dramatic 3-2 victory over Turkey in the semis.

Turkey has a large number of fans among its immigrants in Germany. The Germans will also face Belgium, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, coached by former Germany boss Berti Vogts.

Reigning World Cup champion Italy will play two teams that have qualified for this year’s tournament in South Africa — Serbia and Slovenia.

Italy, which won the European title in 1968, also faces Northern Ireland, Estonia and the Faeroe Islands in Group C

England was with another World Cup finalist, Switzerland, in Group G. It also faces neighbor Wales and has two trips to the Balkans, to Bulgaria and Montenegro.

France, the 2000 champion, will again face Romania after also playing the team in World Cup qualifying. The other Group D teams are Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Albania and Luxembourg.

Greece, the 2004 champion, has Croatia and Israel as its rivals in Group F, plus Latvia, Georgia and Malta.

Portugal will have three trips to northern Europe, with World Cup finalist Denmark, Norway and Iceland awaiting along with Cyprus.

The Netherlands will have two Nordic rivals in Sweden and Finland, plus Hungary, Moldova and San Marino in Group E.

Russia, which like Croatia did not qualify for the World Cup but was placed among the nine top-seeded teams, is in Group B along with Slovakia, which has qualified for the World Cup.

The nine winners and the runner-up with the best record qualify directly for the final tournament. The remaining eight runners-up will go into a home-and-away playoff round that will be played in November 2011. Four teams in those playoffs will be seeded.

As co-hosts, Poland and Ukraine qualify for the tournament automatically.

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