England have an exciting 18 months of football to look forward to was the reply from England boss when he found out who England would face in the Euro 2020 qualifiers as the groups were drawn yesterday.
With Southgate’s world cup semi finalists drawn in Group A they will face home and away games against Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo, with fixtures planned to run from March to November next year.
During that time England will also face their final two games of the League of Nations competition, with the Semi Finals played on June 5th and 6th, while the final follows only days later on June 9th.
Speaking to the BBC on hearing the draw he told them;
the “next stage” for his team was “to handle expectation and make sure we keep playing at a high level, we've got another semi-final to look forward to this summer, there are boys who have won at youth level on the world stage and are pushing this group from underneath.
“We've had a really exciting calendar year, and there is potential for the next 18 months to be even more exciting.”
“There were some obvious fixtures, like Germany in pot two and Serbia in pot three, that could have made it a lot tougher, but I've been involved in England games long enough to know that away from home especially, where there will be an incredible atmosphere, these are games you have to get right in preparation and mentality.
“That will be the biggest issue for us in preparing for those games.
“The nice thing for me is that now we've got an 18-month period where the motivation is high, where we've got not only a Nations League semi-final to look forward to next summer, but this group, which is about getting through to the Euro 2020 finals and earning a right to play those finals at Wembley.”
The draw wasn’t so good for the other home nations involved, most notably Northern Ireland who will face the might of England’s League of Nations opponents the Netherlands and Germany in their group.
After some confusion the Republic of Ireland were moved from group C to D where they will now face another one League of Nations semi-finalist, Switzerland along with Denmark, Georgia and Gibraltar.
Scotland were matched against current World numbers ones Belgium, Russia, Cyprus, San Marino and Kazakhstan, while Wales take on World cup finalists Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary and Azerbaijan.
The Winner and runner up from each group will go directly into the Final’s which will see games played throughout Europe, with Wembley hosting the semi finals and Final of Euro 2020.
The full draw is
Group A: England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo.
Group B: Portugal, Ukraine, Serbia, Lithuania, Luxembourg.
Group C: Netherlands, Germany, Northern Ireland, Estonia, Belarus.
Group D: Switzerland, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Georgia, Gibraltar.
Group E: Croatia, Wales, Slovakia, Hungary, Azerbaijan.
Group F: Spain, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Faroe Islands, Malta.
Group G: Poland, Austria, Israel, Slovenia, Macedonia, Latvia.
Group H: France, Iceland, Turkey, Albania, Moldova, Andorra.
Group I: Belgium, Russia, Scotland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, San Marino.
Group J: Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein.