England manager Gareth Southgate believes the margins will be fine and ‘eight or 10 big nations’ are in the frame to win Euro 2020 after the draw for the tournament was made on Saturday.
Southgate’s side will be amongst the favourites after reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia, although they will be up against Croatia, the side that knocked them out, in Group D along with Czech Republic and a playoff winner.
With the tournament being spread across 12 nations, England will have the advantage of playing each of their group games at Wembley, as well as the semi-final and final if they progress.
Asked his thoughts on the draw, Southgate, who played in England’s Euro 96 squad that reached the semi-finals, said: ‘I’m never sure whether it’s a good draw. We have played two of the teams before and for us to play at Wembley is something special.
‘We know the quality of (Croatia’s) midfielders. That’s a top-level fixture. There are eight to 10 big countries. The margins are really, really fine.’
If England win their group they could face a last-16 tie in Dublin against Germany, France or holders Portugal -- all of whom are in a tough-looking Group F.
‘The group has the winners of the last three big international tournaments,’ Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. ‘It’s a tough group with two favourites for the title and one candidate. We are going to believe in our chances.’
Southgate dismissed suggestions that England could have an easier draw by finishing second in their group.
‘If you can win and be top seeds then you have to take control of your destiny,’ he said. ‘Let’s hope we have the decision to make. We will take on whoever that comes.’
Wales, who enjoyed a dream run to the Euro 2016 semis and who clinched qualification in their final game earlier this month, have been placed in Group A with Turkey, Italy and Switzerland.
Wales will open against Switzerland in Baku.
‘Logistically looking at it, it’s Baku, Baku, Rome, rather than having Rome in the middle -- so for the fans it’s much better,’ manager Ryan Giggs said.
‘We want to take our chance, just like in 2016. It’s not easy, you have to get the momentum like we did in France.’
What they said after Euro draw
Here is what coaches and players said after the draw for the Euro 2020 finals on Saturday:
‘Whoever wins that group will be among the absolute favourites to win the whole thing’ - Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan after his nation were drawn with World Cup winners France and Euro holders Portugal in a tough-looking Group F.
‘It’s the hardest group, but we must accept it. We’re in perhaps the worst situation because (even) the playoff team could be the best of the playoff teams’ - France coach Didier Deschamps on that high-calibre group.
‘For us the first match with England is the most important, there is no better and nicer opening for us’ - Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic, whose side face England at Wembley in their Group D opener.
‘Hopefully when we play Italy they will have six points already and will play the reserves’ - Wales coach Ryan Giggs suggests one way of getting past Italy in Group A.
‘France’s looks like the Group of Death, but that bothers me because a very well-prepared side will go out in that group’ - Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, whose side will expect to progress from a Group B featuring Denmark, Russia and first-time qualifiers Finland.
‘I say this with some care, but I think we’re the favourites in our group’ - Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman after the Dutch were drawn with Ukraine, Austria and an as yet to be decided qualifier. — AFP
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Football