GARETH SOUTHGATE was pleased with England’s Euro 2020 qualifying group which will see them face the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo.
‘We have avoided some big teams, so we have to make sure our preparation for these sort of games is spot on,’ the England manager told Sky Sports following yesterday’s draw.
‘When you play some of the lesser-known countries, motivation for them to play against England is massive. Especially the games away from home, there can be very intense atmospheres, but we are in a good moment as a team and we want to keep that momentum going.’
England have never played the Czechs in a competitive match since the break-up of Czechoslovakia, with one win and one draw from two previous friendly encounters. They have also not faced Kosovo who only gained Fifa membership in 2016.
The Three Lions beat Bulgaria home and away en route to qualification for Euro 2012 and also faced them in qualifying for the 1980 and 2000 finals.
Montenegro were qualification opponents for England for Euro 2012, and also for the 2014 World Cup finals. England have only beaten them once, drawing the other three encounters.
Although England will be expected to comfortably qualify, Southgate insisted there would be no complacency.
‘It is not something we have seen from this group of players in the time I have worked with them,’ he said. ‘Complacency is not part of the equation.’
Group A: England, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo.
Group B: Portugal, Ukraine, Serbia, Lithuania, Luxembourg.
Group C: Holland, 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 and Herzegovina, Finland, Greece, Armenia, Liechtenstein.
■ 32 — Teams in a third European club competition from 2021, Uefa announced yesterday. Fixtures will be played on a Thursday, the same day as the Europa League, and Uefa will leave it to individual associations to decide the criteria for earning a place, be it through league or cup.