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European Football Thread

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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? smile.gif

Edited by Jamеs
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Guest mr. potato head

Think I'm gonna try to get into Ligue 1 this year (if the network that shows it up here survives). The only other non-Prem option I can get on TV without shelling out more money is Serie A which has never interested me all that much.

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I have teams I follow/want to win in some European leagues. Valencia in Spain is my main one. I'd class them as my second side. In France it's Lyon, soft spot for FC Lorient because of their kit (we use it in Fifa).

Italy it's kinda Roma, but I like Juve too. I reckon I need teams in Holland and Germany next.

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Reus looks a great signing for Dortmund, he's had a fantastic season for Gladbach and I'll be disappointed to see him leave after a good season. The heart of that team has essentially been ripped out. I want to get to some German matches one day, the Hertha Berlin v Union Berlin derby looks ridiculously good but also impossible to get to. For example fans will buy season tickets for the other team just to get a ticket to the match in the other teams end, it's that hard to get tickets!

I don't really have any second teams as such, Athletic Club in Spain are probably be second favoured club but otherwise I find myself liking most of teams - particularly rival teams, for example I like both Anderlecht and Standard Liege which is odd - but I guess I just enjoy the football and players moreso than any one club. You find that you gravitate to one team naturally and prefer them generally for reasons you don't know.

Also MPH join the Ligue Un love in. It's a great league and the teams change so much - Rennes seem set to lose M'Vila, Kembo-Ekoko, manager Antonetti (who may be off to Marseille should Deschamps leave, that would be... fun) and plenty of others will be oging too so it'll be a tough job for them next season but so many teams are used to rebuilding a club year after year. It's a shame you won't get to experience Ligue Un with Hazard for Lille, it'll be interesting to see how they cope this year having lost him - he was such a talismanic player for them last year.

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As a kid I loved AC Milan. Haven't really followed Italian football much the past few years but I have a soft spot for Napoli.

I'm moving back to Peru in September so then it will probably just be able to see EPL and La Liga mainly.

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Flags!

Edited by Colly

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Del Piero's letter to Juventus fans.

"It ends here, my contract with Juventus expires today," the 37-year-old states in his letter, published in Corriere dello Sport.

“It’s not news, but knowing it is ‘official’ still has an effect on me. It is not a sad moment for me, there are no regrets or nostalgia. Not anymore.

"That’s because I’ve had time to think back over everything that happened in my last Bianconeri season, going further back and reliving the greatest dream I could’ve dreamed.

"All the memories, the joys, the triumphs and – to be honest – a few recent moments of bitterness... Today all these images flash in front of my eyes and at a certain point blur into one marvellous embrace of my final game in Turin.

“That is the photograph that encapsulates everything, the instant I want to bring with me always, the one that since May 13 has been printed on my heart. It cannot be cancelled.

“A while ago, before going on vacation, I emptied out my locker at Vinovo and walking out of the training ground I stopped where for many months you waited for me hoping for a photo, an autograph or just a hello... under the snow, the ice, the rain, the burning sun. But this time I am the one saluting and thanking you, just as you did with me.

“The players pass by, but Juventus remains. My team-mates remain, who I wish the best and will always cheer them on.

“Above all what remains is the fans, you who are Juventus. That jersey that I loved and will always love, that I desired and respected, without breaks or discounts.

"I am happy that others after me can wear the shirt and above all the ‘10’ that has always had my name on it since they started printing names on the Bianconeri jerseys.

“I am happy for whoever will wear it next year and happy that somewhere – in Italy and all over the world – someone is dreaming of wearing it.

“I would be proud of someone wanting to follow my path, just as I dreamed of doing so with other champions, other examples, other legends.

“From tomorrow I will no longer be a Juventus player, but I will always be one of you. Now a new adventure begins and I am as fired up as I was 19 summers ago.

“Arrivederci. Thanks for everything.

"Alessandro."

One of the greatest I've ever had the pleasure of watching, a legend of the game.

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I created this thread as a sanctuary to be away from you and your kind Colly! In other news I was in Newcastle last night and didn't feel physically ill, what a miracle. :shifty:

+1 for that letter and Alessandro, not you JP - don't get above your station! ¬_¬ Bloody beautiful. Can you imagine Wayne Rooney saying something like that one day? What a ridiculously great player ADP has been for Juventus. :)

Edited by IAceI

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I love Del Piero. I finally got to see him play live at Neville's testimonial last year and it was just great to see him get a standing ovation then. I remember back in the late 90's where we seemingly used to play Juventus every year in the Champions League and Del Piero quickly became my favourite Italian player. Hell, I'd probably still take him at Old Trafford now as an experienced fourth striker option.

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Really looking forward to seeing where he ends up, someone has to pick him up.

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The 2014 European Super Cup final will be held at Cardiff City Stadium, Uefa has announced.

Champions League holders Chelsea face Europa League winners Atletico Madrid in the 2012 final in Monaco on Friday 31 August.

Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas scored Barcelona's goals as they beat Porto 2-0 in the 2011 final.

Monaco's Stade Louis II Stadium has been the Super Cup final venue since 1998.

Prague's Eden Stadium will host the 2013 Super Cup final with Tbilis's Mikheil Meskhi Stadium the venue for the 2015 final.

"The Football Association of Wales is delighted that Cardiff will host this prestigious match," said FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford.

"It is a great opportunity for football supporters in Wales to watch two of the best teams in Europe in a one off game."

Cardiff City Stadium, which has an all-seated capacity of just under 27,000, has been the home of Cardiff City since 2009.

The stadium has staged six Wales international matches and has been confirmed as the venue for the World Cup qualifiers against Belgium and Scotland in the autumn .

Until recently the stadium was also home to regional rugby side Cardiff Blues, who opted to move back to the Arms Park .

In 2011 the stadium hosted rugby's Amlin Challenge Cup final, in which Harlequins defeated Stade Francais 19-18.

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The 2014 European Super Cup final will be held at Cardiff City Stadium, Uefa has announced.

Champions League holders Chelsea face Europa League winners Atletico Madrid in the 2012 final in Monaco on Friday 31 August.

Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas scored Barcelona's goals as they beat Porto 2-0 in the 2011 final.

Monaco's Stade Louis II Stadium has been the Super Cup final venue since 1998.

Prague's Eden Stadium will host the 2013 Super Cup final with Tbilis's Mikheil Meskhi Stadium the venue for the 2015 final.

"The Football Association of Wales is delighted that Cardiff will host this prestigious match," said FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford.

"It is a great opportunity for football supporters in Wales to watch two of the best teams in Europe in a one off game."

Cardiff City Stadium, which has an all-seated capacity of just under 27,000, has been the home of Cardiff City since 2009.

The stadium has staged six Wales international matches and has been confirmed as the venue for the World Cup qualifiers against Belgium and Scotland in the autumn .

Until recently the stadium was also home to regional rugby side Cardiff Blues, who opted to move back to the Arms Park .

In 2011 the stadium hosted rugby's Amlin Challenge Cup final, in which Harlequins defeated Stade Francais 19-18.

Nice. It's going to be almost impossible to get tickets mind.

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What an absolute class act Del Piero is. And he has a way with words too!

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Fenerbahce sentencing:

The president of one of Turkey's leading football clubs, Fenerbahce, has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for match-fixing.

Aziz Yildirim was convicted of fixing six matches and offering payments to players or club officials.

He and his 92 co-defendants - including club officials, coaches and players - all denied the charges.

European football body Uefa has spent millions to monitor betting and investigate match-fixing allegations.

In the past year, match-fixing scandals have tarnished football leagues in Italy, Ireland and Finland.

The court ordered Mr Yildirim's immediate release as he had already spent a year in jail.

He was also fined 1.3 million lira ($720,000; £460,000) and banned from club management and watching matches.

Several other officials were also found guilty.

The ruling came a year after police rounded up dozens of suspects implicated in the scandal.

Mr Yildirim and the others convicted are expected to appeal against the verdicts.

Uefa barred Fenerbahce from last season's Champions' League as a result of the investigation.

However, it said last week that Fenerbahce would be eligible to participate in next season's competition, pending a final decision by the Uefa disciplinary board.

In May, the Turkish football federation cleared Fenerbahce and 15 other Turkish teams of involvement in match-fixing but banned two players.

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I missed the first three words of that statement and thought the actual club had been sentenced to a prison spell for a moment there.

It's a shame, Turkish football is great fun to watch and the atmosphere at matches is fantastic but match fixing just marrs any enjoyment as it bugs you as you watch and you wonder. That said I refuse to believe it just happens in countries like Italy, Finland and Turkey and figure it happens much closer to home than we'd like to think too.

Oh and technically, with Champions League and Europa League qualifiers, the new season begins today! Hooray for football, I was beginning to get withdrawal symptoms after the final - although of course other continents have been playing as normal throughout the past months.

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For a stag do, we're thinking of going to Munich and catching a game at the Allianz Arena (Vs. Werder Bremen on the weekend of 22nd/24th is looking most likely). Anyone have any experience in buying tickets for games in Germany? Is there a specific site for tourists or anything?

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Ive got a couple of teams Im fond from each country, wouldn't say I support them mind. Always had a soft spot for PSG in France, Lazio in Italy and for some reason Shelbourne in Ireland, probably due to a few attempts and getting them into the Champions Leauge on Football Manager.

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Ive got a couple of teams Im fond from each country, wouldn't say I support them mind. Always had a soft spot for PSG in France, Lazio in Italy and for some reason Shelbourne in Ireland, probably due to a few attempts and getting them into the Champions Leauge on Football Manager.

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For a stag do, we're thinking of going to Munich and catching a game at the Allianz Arena (Vs. Werder Bremen on the weekend of 22nd/24th is looking most likely). Anyone have any experience in buying tickets for games in Germany? Is there a specific site for tourists or anything?

Just go through their site, vast majority is in English if required. Would highly recommend it, had my stag do there even though there were no games on (during the last World Cup) and twas ace. Just watching games in the beer gardens was superb.

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Former Bayern Munich defender Breno was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison by a Munich court on Wednesday after being found guilty of setting his house on fire.

Judge Rosi Datzmann ordered the Brazilian player, who had been on bail pending the outcome of the case, to be taken immediately into custody.

Breno's house, in the leafy Munich suburb of Gruenwald, burned down last September while he was recovering from injury. His family was out at the time.

The talented Breno joined Bayern as an 18-year-old four years ago and had high hopes of becoming their defensive anchor.

He failed, however, to earn a starting spot and having also been plagued by injuries was released by the club last June.

Bayern Munich said they had heard the news with regret.

"Our hope was that Breno could have continued his footballing career and his life together with his family," Bayern said in a statement.

Prosecutors had argued that Breno, who was under the influence of alcohol at the time, used several lighters and possibly some fire accelerant and lit objects around the house.

They had asked for a five-year sentence.

Breno's lawyer, Werner Leitner, said that there were still doubts about whether arson was the cause of the fire.

"He has nothing but family and football," he said. "Give Breno a chance."

Local media reported that Breno was likely to spend two and a half years in a German prison before being deported.

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Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has dispensed with the services of his old guard as he handed his younger players a chance to prove themselves. Skipper Robbie Keane, keeper Shay Given, central defender Richard Dunne and midfielder Stephen Hunt have been left out of the squad for next month's friendly clash with Serbia in Belgrade, although their absence does not signal the end of their respective careers for their country. Stoke utility man Marc Wilson, Everton's Seamus Coleman and Wigan midfielder James McCarthy, who asked not to be considered for the Euro 2012 finals because his father was undergoing cancer treatment, are among the beneficiaries of Trapattoni's decision to have a look at what he hopes will form part of a new generation for the Republic as they attempt to bounce back from their disappointment in Poland and Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has named a youthful squad for next month's friendly against Serbia in Belgrade.

Skipper Robbie Keane, Shay Given, Richard Dunne and Stephen Hunt have been left out of the 23-man panel.

Marc Wilson, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy are among those given a fresh opportunity by Trapattoni.

"This game offers us an opportunity to try out younger players ahead of our World Cup qualifiers," said Trapattoni.

Wigan midfielder McCarthy asked not to be considered for the Euro 2012 finals because his father was undergoing cancer treatment.

The friendly is the Republic's first game after a disappointing campaign in Poland and Ukraine.

The Irish start their World Cup qualifying campaign against Kazakhstan on 7 September.

"I have decided to leave some of our senior players out of the squad for this fixture," he added.

"Serbia are a very good team with a great football heritage, and will provide us with a great test before our game against Kazakhstan in September.

"I am looking forward to working with each of these players next month. As we prepare for a new journey for this team, it is important that we remember our last campaign as we build for a brighter future."

Republic squad: Keiren Westwood (Sunderland), David Forde (Millwall), Darren Randolph (Motherwell), Marc Wilson (Stoke), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Sean St Ledger (Leicester), Darren O'Dea (Unattached), Stephen Ward (Wolves), Stephen Kelly (Fulham), Paul McShane (Hull), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Darron Gibson (Everton), James McCarthy (Wigan), Paul Green (Leeds), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow), Andy Keogh (Millwall), James McClean (Sunderland), Keith Treacy (Burnley), Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Shane Long and Simon Cox (both West Brom), Jon Walters (Stoke).

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      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.
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      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

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      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
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