Already got a PR email saying England are favourites to win the tournament! FOOTBALL IS COMING HOME!
Where is slap, bang in the middle of Rome and Baku? Istanbul?
Two trips to Baku for Wales in four days. Elis James will have some explaining to do at home.
GROUP F has made this whole blog worthwhile. Portugal, France and Germany in one group really is great fun.
Mark Hughes is another man who looks a lot better for not being a football manager.
I like the guess work, it makes a tedious draw even more annoying.
Does that make sense? Wales will be pleased with the draw, I guess.
England will be laughing. Four of the six third place teams will also progress from the group.
Group A (Rome, Baku): Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Wales
Group B (St Petersburg, Copenhagen): Russia, Denmark, Belgium, Finland
Group C (Amsterdam, Bucharest): Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria (Georgia, Kosovo, Belarus, North Macedonia)
Group D (London, Glasgow): England, Croatia, Czech Republic (Scotland, Israel, Norway, Serbia)
Group E (Bilbao, Dublin): Spain, Poland, Sweden (N Ireland, Bosnia, Slovakia or Ireland)
Group F (Munich, Budapest): Germany, France, Portugal (Iceland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary)
Playoff winner B in Group E. So that’s N Ireland, Bosnia, Slovakia or Ireland
Scotland, Israel, Norway or Serbia will be in Group D with England.
Wales are in Group A with Turkey, Italy and Switzerland. Enjoy Baku, lads.
Playoff winner A will be in Group F. That almost means nothing. It could be Iceland, Romania, Bulgaria or Hungary. But if Romania win it then they will be into Group C, anyway, and they’ll have to change it all.
Rather tedious having teams who faced each other in qualifying in the same groups. Why bother? Surely this concept could have been done more competently.
The final pot consists of Finland and Wales, not to mention the teams we don’t know about yet.
Portugal, France and Germany in Group F. Spicy.
Sweden go into Group E. They joined Spain, who they played in the qualifiers, and Poland.
Italy v Turkey will be the opening game of the tournament next summer.
Czech Republic will play England again, having been drawn in Group D. Southgate will be pleased.
Austria find themselves in Group C alongside Netherlands and Ukraine.
Poland are in Group E with Spain. Bilbao and Dublin are lovely.
Croatia join England in Group D!! They will play each other in the opening group game on 14 June.
Ruud Gullit is the man pulling out of the Pot 2 balls. He is doing it very well, I must say. He twists those balls open without any trouble – he must have opened plenty of Kinder surprises in his time.
Switzerland are in Group A! They take position four and can enjoy a trip to Baku.
England will play all their group games at Wembley, which is exciting news for those who do not like travelling.
Pot 1 is done! This is a relief. Unsurprisingly, Pot 2 is next up.
England are drawn into Group D (we already knew this) and put into the first position. Logistically exciting.
Belgium go into Group B, the only group they could have been drawn in. This is a waste of time.
Ted Lee has got me far more excited that this draw ever could: “Does anyone get tired of seeing draw-after-draw with ping-pong balls? Why not darts? Or have each country send a 4 x 100 relay team, or even a geography quiz? Or combine the draw with Eurovision?”
The first bit is basically working out logistics for host countries. This is mildly mind-numbing.
Ukraine are first out and drawn into Group C, the only one they are permitted to be in. Netherlands are also in that group.
‘Now we all know how the group works …’ it’s all clear Pedro, you crack on.
The draw procedure! This is exciting! Let’s remember that four teams are still to qualify through the playoffs.
Totti has turned up in full tux and looks fantastic. What a chap!
Arshavin is here too!
They are just bringing them all out at once. Learn to build the tension, please.
Eleven special guests! I can’t wait. Let’s predict them!
Casillas and Desailly are next up.
We’re on the stage! We can all expect plenty of needless chat. Joao Mario is up first to say that winning the tournament is good. Ricardo Carvalho follows this by also explaining that winning is nice.
Mrs Live Blogger is from Bucharest, so I assume this is why I was brought in for this role. I also used to live in Bilbao, so I am full of insight on the various host cities.
Jonathan Tasker says: “There are over sixty million people in this country. It is beyond belief that the best the BBC can come up with as a panel is Mark Hughes, presumably because he’s Welsh, Micah Richards, still best known for swearing live on the telly and a journalist. Embarrassing.”
1. Mark Hughes did manage Wales
2. Micah Richards did a bit more than swear in his career and is a very good pundit
I bloody love Micah.
Just remind me if this comes true …
Bilbao and Dublin is the best collection of host cities, really. Mark Chapman is trying to explain the draw but does not seem convinced.
Here is our explanation.
The actual draw should start in about 20 minutes. It is supposed to take around an hour but will almost certainly take longer.
I wrote this before Finland qualified but it still makes sense …
And here is a team-by-team guide …
Is there anything better than a long, drawn-out couple of hours of balls being plucked from buckets?
There will be a parade of former international turning up in their shiny suits for a small fee, some chitter chatter on stage and the pride of picking Ukraine out of a hat.
Bucharest must be ruddy freezing at the moment, which will make it easier to spot the hot balls. We actually already know which group some of the teams will be in, as they are hosting some of the tournament which is spread across Europe, so hopefully that will cut down how long this whole process takes.
I am mainly hoping there is a parade of the Romania ’94 World Cup squad, and if there isn’t I will be writing a lengthy lesson.
There is a lot to take in, so here is a guide to the big show: