this is the kind of blog post that tends to get thousands of hits for this humble blog of mine, so for the novelty factor, here you go.
the Euro 2016 qualifying draw, to be held in France thanks to a very interesting interpretation of what is a free and fair vote, was held today. well, held today if you are reading this on the Sunday that it all happened, or if you like kicked off.
the full draw, to save you reading much of my nonsense if you would care to avoid it. is :
Group A: Netherlands, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, Kazakhstan
Group B: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Israel, Wales, Cyprus, Andorra
Group C: Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, Macedonia, Luxembourg
Group D: Germany, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, Gibraltar
Group E: England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino
Group F: Greece, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands
Group G: Russia, Sweden, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova, Liechtenstein
Group H: Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta
Group I: Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, Armenia, Albania
who qualifies for the new size 24 team tournament? the top two from each group, plus the best overall 3rd place team, and then four out of the other 8 3rd placed teams after a home and away thing.
France, who do not need to qualify due to a demonstration of democracy by Michel "money" Platini. France and Turkey were tied in the voting you see, so the French Platini illustrated the unbiased and honest approach you would expect of the UEFA President by conjuring up a deciding vote and awarding it to France. boy, he will be mega as FIFA President one day. France will, however, play "friendlies" against all them sensational sides in Group I, from which Portugal and Denmark will qualify automatically and Serbia will go through in that best 3rd place side overall slot.
a picture of the draw as it goes for England? whyever not, thanks to some chap from Sunderland who "upped" it to the net, and indeed with the greatest of thanks to Sky for showing it in the first place
England's draw is, as you hardly need me to tell you, very exciting and loaded with amazing, brilliant games. but i will illustrate a bit for you, since you are reading.
the highlight, without any shadow of anything even like doubt, is of course England vs Slovenia. Slovenia, the well known footballing powerhouse, will be looking for revenge and a return to respectability. Slovenia disgraced themselves, and indeed all the surrounding nations in their bit of Europe, by being the only team bad enough to actually lose to England in the 2010 World Cup.
otherwise England vs Switzerland throws up all sorts of exciting prospects. should Chelsea have any English players left by this time and any of them make it into the national side, the "big club" fans of Chelsea will delight in returning there to see if they can torment and intimidate another Swiss referee into retirement. the match, however, mostly represents a conflict of interest for Roy Hodgson.
Roy, you see, once managed the Swiss. he took the Swiss to World Cup 1994, that one that England skipped via having Graham Taylor as manager. the Swiss, so far as i know, didn't describe Roy as "wanker" or "Blackburn reject" during his time with them. possibly, in fairness, because he had not managed Blackburn by that stage.
otherwise, it's just ace that we, England, get to play San Marino again. one of the two goals San Marino have scored in their existence came against England - an English side that fielded no less a class player that Stuart Ripley - so they will no doubt be hoping to repeat the trick.
more comments, but first a picture of "Money" Platini; a picture in which he looks in no way like a total bellend and one in which he is not suggesting how if he had an actual penis on his forehead what size, roughly, it would be.
some of the most exciting games will, of course, be in Group D. before you all rush to print your "SFA" t-shirts again, don't be so sure they will fail to qualify. after all by this stage Scotland should be well on their way to being a proud Republic, independently having the Queen of the United Kingdom as their unelected Head of State and spending either English Pounds, reasonably stable Euros or some pebbles to keep the economy ticking over.
to this end, Scotland vs Gibraltar is all the more exciting. Gibraltar are not so much a nation seeking independence as they are a nation looking forward to some sort of war one day kicking off between England and Spain over who owns it. a war which, no doubt, will see fishermen arm themselves and the French surrender as soon as possible. when Scotland land and tell them stories of how they are going to be independent, following the dream of a semi-alcoholic, American born Australian sheep enthusiast, a whole new dynamic could be brought to bear.
i could go on, but i won't. bored? maybe. but it is more to do with me having no interest in looking for other pictures right now and also how we all have to hold on a bit. the Euro 2016 qualifiers will only start after England have humiliated and embarrassed themselves at the World Cup in Brazil this year.
as for Euro 2016 itself, already it is nothing short of a triumph. the 24 nation version is brilliant as it shows to football federations, advertisers and tv people that Michel "Money" Platini, despite his humble approach, is in fact all about milking as much money as he possibly can out of anything he happens to be President of and thus is perfect advertising for him to become President of FIFA one day. and what a great day that will be, for it will be the start of people actually missing Sepp "Bellend" Blatter.
enjoy the football!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!