Feb 23, 2014, 8:43 AM EDT
Looking over this morning’s draw for Euro 2016 qualifying, the groups were spread pretty thin, just like UEFA wants it.
However, the road to France in two years’ time is much easier for some than it is for others.
Let’s take a look at who made out the easiest and most difficult.
–Spain: The defending European champions were not surprisingly handed a fantastically easy road to qualification, and they will barely need to break a sweat. Their group consists of Luxembourg, Macedonia, Belarus, Slovakia, and Ukraine. Out of that group, only Ukraine qualified for Euro 2012, and they did so automatically as the hosts. They ended up with just three group-stage points. Expect no trouble for the Spaniards whatsoever.
-Germany: Shockingly (not really), another top team has an easy route. With just Gibraltar, Georgia, Scotland, Poland, and the Republic of Ireland in their way, it will be shades of 2012 qualification where they finished with nearly double the points total of anyone else in their group.
-Sweden: After last round’s impressive qualification run, beating out Hungary and nearly keeping pace with the Netherlands at the top of their qualification group, the Swedes bowed out meekly in the group stage of Euro 2012. Now, they will have another fight on their hands, drawing Russia and Austria along with Montenegro, Liechtenstein, and Moldova.
-Netherlands: Euro 2012 qualification was kind to the Netherlands, as they earned their group’s top spot ahead of Sweden, Hungary, and Finland. Now, they’ll have to do it up against the Czech Republic and Turkey, both Euro 2012 knockout qualifiers and impressively so. Turkey finished second ahead of Belgium last time around before falling in the playoff, while the Czech Republic made it all the way to the knockout rounds. The Dutch will have their work cut out for them.
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