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  1. First qualifying round (11 & 18 July) Group 1 Malmö (SWE) v Ballymena (NIR)/NSÍ (FRO) Connah's Quay Nomads (WAL) v Kilmarnock (SCO) Breidablik (ISL) v Vaduz (LIE) Brann (NOR) v Shamrock Rovers (IRL) Vitebsk (BLR) v KuPS Kuopio (FIN) Group 2 Ordabasy Shymkent (KAZ) v Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO) Sant Julià (AND)/Europa (GIB) v Legia (POL) Gzira United (MLT) v Hajduk Split (CRO) Radnicki Niš (SRB) v Flora (EST) CSKA Sofia (BUL) v Titograd (MNE) Group 3 Maccabi Haifa (ISR) v Mura (SVN) Debrecen (HUN) v Kukësi (ALB) Jeunesse Esch (LUX) v Tobol Kostanay (KAZ) FCSB (ROU) v Milsami Orhei (MDA) Čukarički (SRB) v Banants (ARM) Group 4 Crusaders (NIR) v B36 (FRO) Inter Turku (FIN) v Brøndby (DEN) Prishtina (KOS)/St Joseph's (GIB) v Rangers (SCO) Cork (IRL) v Progrès Niederkorn (LUX)/Cardiff Metropolitan University (WAL) Molde (NOR) v KR (ISL) Group 5 Levski Sofia (BUL) v Ružomberok (SVK) Akademija Pandev (MKD) v Zrinjski (BIH) FK Zeta (MNE) v Fehérvár (HUN) Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR) v Hibernians (MLT) Neftçi (AZE) v Speranta Nisporeni (MDA) Group 6 Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN) v Rīgas FS (LVA) Budapest Honvéd (HUN) v Žalgiris Vilnius (LTU) Radnik Bijeljina (BIH) v Spartak Trnava (SVK) Fola Esch (LUX) v Chikhura Sachkhere (GEO) Alashkert (ARM) v Makedonija Skopje (MKD) Group 7 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v La Fiorita (SMR)/Engordany (AND) Široki Brijeg (BIH) v Kairat Almaty (KAZ) Kauno Žalgiris (LTU) v Apollon Limassol (CYP) Ventspils (LVA) v Teuta (ALB) Cracovia Kraków (POL) v DAC 1904 Dunajská Streda (SVK) Group 8 Stjarnan (ISL) v Levadia Tallinn (EST) Barry Town (WAL)/Cliftonville (NIR) v Haugesund (NOR) Riteriai (LTU) v KÍ (FRO)/Tre Fiori (SMR) Dinamo Minsk (BLR) v Liepāja (LVA) Norrköping (SWE) v Saint Patrick's (IRL) Aberdeen (SCO) v RoPS Rovaniemi (FIN) Group 9 Domžale (SVN) v Balzan (MLT) Laçi (ALB) v Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR) Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) v Narva Trans (EST) Sabail (AZE) v U Craiova 1948 (ROU) Pyunik (ARM) v Shkupi (MKD) AEK Larnaca (CYP) v Petrocub-Hincesti (MDA) Seeded sides in bold
  2. So instead of having a moderately busy La Liga thread and then having everything else shoved in the general thread, let's have a thread for all of Europes finest leagues. As we have fans of Spanish, Italian, German football and members of the Netherlands, Portugal and elsewhere - it makes sense. So for the 2012-13 seasons, here we go: Spain Real Madrid It was Real Madrid, and Jose Mourinho's, time at last as they finally broke through the Barcelona dominance and won La Liga. With Mourinho choosing to stay on at the helm and Pep Guardiola walking away from Barcelona are we maybe looking into a new ranking whereby Real Madrid are the big boys and Barcelona the lesser of the two? Barcelona have moved quick to sign Jordi Alba as Eric Abidal's replacement but Real Madrid will undoubtedly bring in new players over the coming month. Atletico Madrid won the Europa League, beating countrymen Athletic Bilbao in a year to remember for the Spanish. Italy Juventus An unbeaten season for the Old Lady of Turin as they saw off all comers, particularly AC Milan, to win the Scudetto. An invincible league season means they are worthy winners, they bid farewell to Alessandro Del Piero as Antonio Conte looks to bring in the new faces of the team. Inter Milan ended the season with their third manager as Gaspierini was first sacked and the Tinkerman Claudio Ranieri couldn't last the haul. Andrea Stramaccioni saw the team to 6th but it was his 4-2 derby win over Milan which probably landed him the job for at least another season. Germany Borussia Dortmund In a league lauded for its diverse range of successful teams it was Dortmund who managed to retain their league title ahead of Bayern Munich, they also beat their rivals in the DFB Pokal to do a memorable double. Dortmund say goodbye to Shinji Kagawa as he heads to Manchester United having initially signed for Dortmund for £350,000. His replacement is the rapidly improving Marco Reus from surprise package Borussia Monchengladbach. Last season Monchengladbach narrowly avoided relegation thanks to Lucien Favre, who then lead the team to fourth place and a Champions League qualification berth. It could well be Dortmund v Bayern again in another exciting battle for the Bundesliga. France Montpellier Montpellier stuck their fingers up at convention as they secured Ligue 1 last season with thanks to Oliver Giroud and Younes Belhanda. With Giroud moving to Arsenal, and Belhanda unlikely to stick around much longer either it seems Montpellier's eccentric owner Louis Nicollin is set to cash in on his stars. PSG will likely look to right a wrong and canter to Ligue 1 this year as they look to strengthen their team. For the likes of Lille, Rennes and Bordeaux it will be all about trying to replace their departing superstars without rocking the boat while Lyon and Marseille just try to remember where it all went wrong. Portugal Porto Despite losing their manager Andres Villas Boas for a brief fling with Chelsea, Porto managed to win yet another league title seeing off Benfica by a six point margin. Braga had been the early pace setters for the league but fell off after the mid point while Sporting never really got going at all and miss out on the Champions League altogether. Much like France, the best players in Portugal will likely move on to bigger and better things as the teams replace them with cheaper players often from South America. It may be Hulk who takes the major headlines in England as he and Chelsea make kissy faces at each other, but should anyone manage to snag team mate James Rodriguez of Colombia then they may well be getting one of the deals of the season. Holland Ajax It was number 31 for Ajax as they came good at the end of the season to emerge six points clear of the rest. Only a short while before the end of the season the top six or so were virtually inseperable but the country's most successful team showed enough about them to pull away from the pack and win yet another title. The Dutch league has provided some of the most exciting games over the past few years with unpredictable results, and emerging stars making a name for themselves: most recently Luuk de Jong who looks set to move to the Bundesliga with Gladbach. Russia Zenit St Petersburg As Russia switch to a winter calendar to fall in line with the rest of Europe we come to an end of an extravagantly long season whereby Zenit St Petersburg managed to win after the switch into the Championship Stage. Dynamo Moscow, with an inspired Andriy Voronin, were the surprise leaders but eventually overtaken by Zenit, Spartak and CSKA Moscow - the latter helped along by the 28 goals of Seydou Doumbia. It was only good enough for third and with Slaven Bilic moving to Lokomotiv Moscow and Unai Emery to Spartak, it may yet proved third wasn't good enough to save Leonid Slutskiy from the chop at CSKA. Belgium Anderlecht Like Ajax of the Netherlands the 2011-12 season brought about a record number 31 for Anderlecht. It was all quite easy for Anderlecht who showed no ill effects of losing Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea the season before. They will likely be the strongest team again, with Ariel Jacobs leaving the managerial post, they have also brought in Cyriac Gohi Bi from rivals Standard. Club Brugge will contest the Champions League qualification with them, Genk make the Europa League but there will be no European adventure for Standard Liege next season as they finished 5th in the Championship Group after a troubled season. --- I'll leave it there, there were exciting seasons in Poland and Turkey as well but I'm out of time to write much more. Nearly all these leagues are readily available on ESPN or often streamed through a betting website - as long as you have an account - with English commentary too. So, European football aficiandos... are we all looking forward to the 2012-13 season?
  3. Euro 2020 will be a tournament unlike any other. Hosted across 12 cities stretching from Dublin to Baku, it will feature 24 teams who have escaped the labyrinthine qualification process. Although qualifiers officially kicked off in March, the Nations League, which began 18 months ago, has also played a part. The number of hosts, a seeding system that leans heavily on qualifying results, and political tensions across the continent have made this draw unique. For some countries, including England, there is plenty at stake – but one group is all but decided already. Here’s what you need to know. The basics The draw will take place at Bucharest’s Romexpo Centre at 6pm local time (5pm GMT) on Saturday - it's airing live on BBC Two. There will be six groups of four. Twenty teams have secured their place; four more will qualify via the play-offs (more on that later). The pots The teams are seeded based on their qualifying record, meaning that Wales and debutants Finland are in Pot Four with the as-yet-unknown play-off winners. World champions France are in Pot Two; Euro 2016 and Nations League winners Portugal are in Pot Three. Pot One: Belgium, Italy, England, Germany, Spain, Ukraine. Pot Two: France, Poland, Switzerland, Croatia, Netherlands, Russia. Pot Three: Portugal, Turkey, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Czech Republic. Pot Four: Wales and Finland, plus the four play-off winners. What happens to the hosts? Each group has been assigned two host cities. Seven of the 12 venues are in countries that have already qualified. Those teams are protected, to ensure they will play group games at home – which means several places in the draw are set: Group A (Rome, Baku): Italy Group B (St Petersburg, Copenhagen): Russia and Denmark Group C (Amsterdam, Bucharest): Netherlands Group D (London, Glasgow): England Group E (Bilbao, Dublin): Spain Group F (Munich, Budapest): Germany The Group B problem Only two of the top six seeds are not hosting matches: Belgium and Ukraine. They can be drawn only into Groups B or C, where teams from lower pots are hosting games. But because of political tension, Andriy Shevchenko’s team have to be kept away from Russia. That means they go into Group C with the Netherlands, and Belgium join Russia and Denmark in Group B. That’s right – three of the group’s teams are already decided. What’s more, because other groups have to be kept open for hosts in the play-offs, Group B must include either Finland or Wales – with the other joining Italy in Group A. Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne, for one, is not happy. “It’s a shame. For me, this feels like a fake competition. Football has become more and more a business.” He is right to feel aggrieved; Belgium had the best overall qualifying record, but face tricky trips to St Petersburg and Copenhagen. Denmark will host three games in Group B, with Russia travelling to Copenhagen. That’s because they were picked in a draw, despite Russia’s better qualifying record placing them in a higher pot. How might the play-offs affect things? Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, Hungary and Romania could qualify via the play-offs. The draw will make sure that if they do, they’ll play at home. That means Scotland would be in Group D with England, and Ireland in Group E with Spain. If Romania make it through Path A, they will go into Group C as co-hosts; if not, then the Path D winner goes into that group. That’s significant because Path D includes the four weakest teams on paper: Georgia, Belarus, Kosovo and North Macedonia. Remind me how the play-offs work again? The play-offs feature 16 teams, divided into four “paths”, with last Friday’s draw allocating the home sides for the single-leg semi-finals and final: Path A: Bulgaria v Hungary*, Iceland v Romania* Path B: Bosnia v Northern Ireland, Slovakia v Republic of Ireland* Path 😄 Norway v Serbia, Scotland* v Israel Path 😧 Georgia v Belarus, N Macedonia v Kosovo *Potential host nation Winners of first semi-final at home in the final The paths are based on finishing positions in the Nations League, but an uneven draw has thrown up some unfair advantages. Bulgaria, who failed to win their Nations League group and won one of their eight qualifiers, are two home wins from qualification. What does this all mean for England? Gareth Southgate’s side will play all three group games at Wembley, and will face the winner of Path C (Norway, Serbia, Scotland or Israel). The other two teams will come from Pots Two and Three, and some are certainly tougher than others. The worst outcome would be France and Portugal, while Switzerland and the Czech Republic would look less daunting on paper. If England top Group D, their first knockout match would be in Dublin, followed by a potential quarter-final against Spain in Rome. Should they come second, it’s a trip to Copenhagen, and then a potential quarter-final against Germany in St Petersburg. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What is the toughest draw? All the seeds will want to avoid France and/or Portugal. Iceland look the most dangerous side in the play-offs, and would go into Group F if they qualify – so a group of Germany, France, Portugal and Iceland is possible. At the other end of the scale, the Netherlands could face Ukraine, Austria and Georgia at home. Who could have furthest to travel? Wales have a 50-50 chance of being in Group A, playing one match against Italy in Rome (1,300 miles from Cardiff) and the other two in Baku. It’s 3,000 miles to the Azerbaijani capital, or an 11-hour, two-stop flight. The only one-stop option is a 13,800-mile round trip, with a layover in Doha. If Ryan Giggs’ side get through as one of the best third-placed teams, their path to the semi-finals could go via Bucharest and St Petersburg. Uefa came in for criticism from environmental groups for hosting the Europa League final (between two London teams) in Baku. The governing body has pledged to offset the carbon footprint of every supporter; quite how it will work this out is another matter. Dates for your diary 26th March – Play-off semi-finals 31st March – Play-off finals; draw complete 12th June – Opening game in Rome 14th June – England’s first game at Wembley 27th June – Knockout stage begins 7th & 8th July – Wembley semi-finals 12th July – The final
  4. League A Group A1: Netherlands, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland Group A2: England, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland Group A3: Portugal, France, Sweden, Croatia Group A4: Switzerland, Spain, Ukraine, Germany League B Group B1: Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland, Romania Group B2: Czech Republic, Scotland, Slovakia, Israel Group B3: Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Hungary Group B4: Wales, Finland, Rep of Ireland, Bulgaria League C Group C1: Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro Group C2: Armenia, Estonia, North Macedonia, Georgia Group C3: Moldova, Slovenia, Kosovo, Greece Group C4: Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Belarus, Albania League D Group D1: Malta, Andorra, Latvia, Faroe Islands Group D2: San Marino, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar --- There is apparently a new format! But here's a reminder of how it worked last time around anyway:
  5. I think the biggest shock here is that it wasn't the News of the World and their 'fake Shiek' breaking this story. Fucking corrupt arseholes, they had better be out of a job before the vote takes place.
  6. The 2018–19 UEFA Nations League will be the inaugural season of the UEFA Nations League, involving the men's national teams of the 55 member associations of UEFA. The competition, which will be held from September to November 2018 (group stage) and June 2019 (Nations League Finals), will also serve as part of the qualification process for UEFA Euro 2020, awarding berths in the play-offs which will decide four of the twenty-four final tournament slots. The format and schedule of the UEFA Nations League was formally approved by the UEFA Executive Committee on 4 December 2014. According to the approved format, the 55 UEFA national teams will be divided into four divisions (called "Leagues"): 12 teams in League A, 12 teams in League B, 15 teams in League C, and 16 teams in League D. For the 2018–19 UEFA Nations League, teams will be divided according to their UEFA national team coefficients after the conclusion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers (play-off results will not be included), with the highest-ranked teams playing in League A, etc. Each division will be divided into four groups of three or four teams, so each team will play four or six matches within their group (using the home-and-away round-robin format), on double matchdays in September, October and November 2018. In the top division League A, teams will compete to become the UEFA Nations League champions. The four group winners of League A will qualify for the Nations League Finals in June 2019, which will be played in a knockout format, consisting of the semi-finals, third place play-off, and final. The semi-final pairings, along with the administrative home teams for the third place play-off and final, are determined by means of a draw. The host country will be selected among the four qualified teams in December 2018, with the winners of the final crowned as the Nations League champions. Teams will also compete for promotion and relegation to a higher or lower division. In each division, the four group winners (except League A) will be promoted, while the last-placed teams of each group (except League D) will be relegated; however, in League C, due to different sized groups, the three fourth-placed teams and the lowest-ranking third-placed team will be relegated. The 2018–19 UEFA Nations League will be linked with UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying, providing teams another chance to qualify for UEFA Euro 2020: The main qualifying process will now begin in March 2019 instead of immediately in September 2018 following the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and will end in November 2019. The format will remain largely the same, although only 20 of the 24 spots for the finals tournament will be decided from the main qualifying process, leaving four spots still to be decided. The 55 teams will be drawn into 10 groups after the completion of the UEFA Nations League (five groups of five teams and five groups of six teams, with the four UEFA Nations League Finals participants guaranteed to be drawn into groups of five teams), with the top two teams in each group qualifying. The draw seeding will be based on the overall rankings of the Nations League. The qualifiers will be played on double matchdays in March, June, September, October and November 2019. Next, a total of 16 teams will participate in the qualifying play-offs, taking place in March 2020, offering a second chance to qualify for UEFA Euro 2020. The 16 teams will be selected based off their performance in the UEFA Nations League. The 16 teams will be divided into four paths, each containing four teams, with one team from each path qualifying for the final tournament. Each league will have its own play-off path if at least four teams are available. The Nations League group winners will automatically qualify for the play-off path of their league. If the group winners have already qualified through the classic qualifying group stage, they will be replaced by the next best ranked teams in the same league. However, if there are not enough teams in the same league, then the group winners will be replaced by the next best team in the overall ranking, but group winners cannot face teams from a higher league. A bottom up process from League D to A is used to select the 16 teams which will compete in the playoffs. First, all available group winners are selected. Then, if a group winner has already qualified, they will be replaced by the next best team in the same league. If there are not enough teams in a given league, then if there is a group winner, the best ranked team of a lower league will be selected. If there is no group winner available in the league, then the best team in the overall ranking will be selected. A bottom up process from League D to A is also used to form the four play-off paths. A path is formed with four teams from the same league. If there are more than four teams qualified for the play-offs in a given league, then a draw will occur to determine which teams will participate in the play-off path of that league. The remaining teams will be drawn into paths with teams of higher leagues. This process ensures that the group winners do not have to compete with teams from a higher league. A draw will take place on 22 November 2019 to allocate the teams which did not win their group. Each play-off path will feature two single-leg semi-finals, and one single-leg final. The best-ranked team will host the fourth-ranked team, and the second-ranked team will host the third-ranked team. The host of the final will be decided by a draw, with semi-final winner 1 or 2 hosting the final. The four play-off path winners will join the 20 teams which have already qualified for UEFA Euro 2020. Basically, here's their explainer! SEEDINGS The draw for the group stage is scheduled to take place in Lausanne, Switzerland on 24 January 2018, 12:00 CET. For political reasons, Armenia and Azerbaijan (due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict), as well as Russia and Ukraine (due to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine), cannot be drawn in the same group. Due to winter venue restrictions, a group can contain a maximum of two of the following teams: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania. Due to excessive travel restrictions, any group can contain a maximum of one of the following pairs: Andorra and Kazakhstan, Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan, Gibraltar and Kazakhstan, Gibraltar and Azerbaijan. --- LEAGUE A GROUP 1: NETHERLANDS, FRANCE, GERMANY GROUP 2: ICELAND, SWITZERLAND, BELGIUM GROUP 3: POLAND, ITALY, PORTUGAL GROUP 4: CROATIA, ENGLAND, SPAIN LEAGUE B GROUP 1: CZECH REPUBLIC, UKRAINE, SLOVAKIA GROUP 2: TURKEY, SWEDEN, RUSSIA GROUP 3: NORTHERN IRELAND, BOSNIA & HERZOGOVINA, AUSTRIA GROUP 4: DENMARK, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND, WALES LEAGUE C GROUP 1: ISRAEL, ALBANIA, SCOTLAND GROUP 2: ESTONIA, FINLAND, GREECE, HUNGARY GROUP 3: CYPRUS, BULGARIA, NORWAY, SLOVENIA GROUP 4: LITHUANIA, MONTENEGRO, SERBIA, ROMANIA LEAGUE D GROUP 1: ANDORRA, KAZAKHSTAN, LATVIA, GEORGIA GROUP 2: SAN MARINO, MOLDOVA, LUXEMBOURG, BELARUS GROUP 3: KOSOVO, MALTA, FAROE ISLANDS, AZERBAIJAN GROUP 4: GIBRALTAR, LIECHTENSTEIN, ARMENIA, MACEDONIA --- The group stage fixtures will take place in September and November 2018. Matchday 1: Sep 6-8 Matchday 2: Sept 9-11 Matchday 3: Oct 11-13 Matchday 4: Oct 14-16 Matchday 5: Nov 15-17 Matchday 6: Nov 18-20
  7. From: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2380083.html#first+second+qualifying+round+draws
  8. The first steps toward the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League final have been taken with the first and second qualiying round draws taking place in Nyon: First qualifying round draw (matches 30 June & 7 July) Second qualifying round draw (matches 14 & 21 July) The list of clubs is provisional and is subject to pending legal and CAS proceedings and final confirmation from UEFA. The Friends Arena in Solna, Sweden will stage the 2017 UEFA Europa League final on 24 May.
  9. GROUP A FRANCE ROMANIA ALBANIA SWITZERLAND GROUP B ENGLAND RUSSIA WALES SLOVAKIA GROUP C GERMANY UKRAINE POLAND NORTHERN IRELAND GROUP D SPAIN CZECH REPUBLIC TURKEY CROATIA GROUP E BELGIUM ITALY REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SWEDEN GROUP F PORTUGAL ICELAND AUSTRIA HUNGARY --- SQUADS --- To accommodate the expansion from a 16 team finals tournament to 24 teams, the format will be changed from that used in 2012 with the addition of two extra groups in the group stage, and an extra round in the knockout stages. The six groups (A to F) would still contain four teams each, with the top two from each group still going through to the knockout stage. In the new format however, the four best third-ranked sides would also progress, leaving 16 teams going into the new round of 16 knockout stage, ahead of the usual quarter-finals, semi-finals and final, and only 8 teams going out at the group stage. The format is exactly the one which was applied to the 1986, 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups, with the exception of the absence of a third-place play-off. This format generates a total of 51 games, compared with 31 games for the previous 16-team tournament, to be played over a period of 31 days. UEFA's general secretary Gianni Infantino previously described the format as "not ideal" due to the need for third-ranked teams in the group stage advancing, leading to a difficulty in preventing situations where teams might be able to know in advance what results they need to progress out of the group, lending to a lack of suspense for fans, or even the prospect of mutually beneficial collusion between teams. --- The UK broadcasting rights to tournament itself will be shared by BBC and ITV. ---
  10. GROUP A Czech Republic (hosts) Denmark Germany Serbia GROUP B England Italy Portugal Sweden --- Squads --- Tournament runs from 17th June till 30th June, with matches being broadcast in the UK on BT Sport.
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