England to face Switzerland, Slovenia, San Marino, Estonia and Lithuania after Euro 2016 qualifying draw

England have been handed a very favourable draw in their qualifying campaign for Euro 2016.

Euro 2016 is being hosted by France, who qualify automatically, and the tournament is expanding from 16 to 24 teams, despite criticisms that the increase in the number of teams will reduce the quality of the competition.

England will be facing San Marino, Lithuania [for the first time] , Estonia, Slovenia and Switzerland in Group E, following proceedings held in Nice on Sunday.

Team manager Roy Hodgson said he was happy to face Switzerland, whom he led to the 1994 World Cup finals and at Euro 96.

"I'm very satisfied, in particular for the fans. We've had some quite tough trips to get to in recent years, but there's some good places to visit," Hodgson said. "The name Switzerland always brings a smile to my face because they were four fantastic years.”

England has never played Lithuania before and Hodgson added: "I went to Vilnius [the capital] with Fulham, so it's not completely unknown to me. It's a nice place to visit and Lithuania, like many countries in that region, are a good footballing team."

Hodgson, however expressed some concern that his team may have to play games on a Thursday after changes to Uefa scheduling. “It will mean basically we’ll get no preparation,” he claimed.

Scotland and the Republic of Ireland drew a much sterner qualifying campaign as they were paired in Group D along with Germany, Poland, Georgia and Gibraltar, who are appearing in their first Uefa competition since becoming a full Fifa member.

Debuting Gibraltar was moved into D after the draw had paired them with Spain in Group C, but to avoid exacerbating political tensions, the UEFA separated them, and the groups were amended.

Northern Ireland, was drawn in Group F with Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland and the Faroe Islands, while Wales is in Group B alongside Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Israel, Cyprus and Andorra.

The top two in each of the nine groups will qualify for the tournament, while the remaining eight third-placed teams will play off for the remaining four spots.

Groups for Euro 2016 qualifying:

  • Group A: Holland, Kazakhstan, Iceland, Latvia, Turkey, Czech Republic
  • Group B: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, Andorra, Wales, Israel, Belgium
  • Group C: Spain, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Belarus, Slovakia, Ukraine
  • Group D: Germany, Gibraltar, Georgia, Scotland, Poland, Republic of Ireland
  • Group E: England, San Marino, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, Switzerland
  • Group F: Greece, Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland, Finland, Romania, Hungary
  • Group G: Russia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Montenegro, Austria, Sweden
  • Group H: Italy, Malta, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Norway, Croatia
  • Group I: Portugal, Albania, Armenia, Serbia, Denmark

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