BUCHAREST: Defending champions Portugal and the last two world champions, France and Germany, were thrown together in what German coach Joachim Loew described as the group of death following a lop-sided and complicated Euro 2020 draw last night.
England were drawn against Croatia in a repeat of last year’s World Cup semi-final while other favourites were given a much easier ride in the 24-team tournament which will be played in 12 different countries across the region.
The clear pick of the six first round pools was Group ‘F’, to be played in Munich and Budapest, which pitted France, Portugal and Germany, plus the winners of either playoff ‘A’ or ‘D’.
However, the sting was slightly taken away by the format which allows four of the six third-placed teams to qualify for the round of 16,
Uefa’s decision to rank the teams according to their result in the qualifiers, combined with Portugal’s performance in their group, meant they ended up among the third seeds while France were one of the second seeds.
“This is a group of death,” said Loew whose side will play all three games at home under competition rules. “The expectations will be quite high. For our young team, this will be huge challenge but also a big motivation.”
England and Croatia, who have met in the Nations League since Croatia’s 2-1 win in Moscow last year, will be joined in Group D by the Czech Republic and the winners of playoff C -- either Scotland, Norway, Serbia or Israel.