Friday, February 21, 2014

Euro 2016 qualifying draw - who could Finland face?

This Sunday sees the eyes of Europe fall on the Mediterranean city of Nice, as the draw is made for the qualifying campaign for the next edition of the European Championships, to be held in France during the summer of 2016.

Finland, who've never qualified for a major international tournament (not including the Olympics), go into the campaign on the back of a decent showing in the race for the 2014 World Cup, finishing third in a tough group behind Spain and France. The Finns were seeded in pot five for that campaign, and have risen to the fourth pot.

So who could Finland draw?

While there are some rules relating to politics and TV deals, the draw for Finland is pretty much open.

As I've covered in a previous post, I talked about how great it would be for Finland to face England - what better time for that to happen? In the spirit of honesty, I'll provide my ideal draw, along with a couple of words why.

England (obvious, plus I think the Finnish fans of the Premier League would enjoy it greatly, and it'd be great to go to be in the Finland away end which isn't too far away).

Ireland (I've got Irish relatives, and it'd be another chance to get to a nearby away game. The last meeting between the two was in 2002, ending 0-3 to Ireland).

Poland (Guaranteed to have some passion, plus with an increasing amount of Finns heading to Poland, there's an extra angle).


Iceland (the surprise stars of WC2014 qualifying and a chance to re-acquaint with Nordic cousins).

Gibraltar (UEFA new boys, very much an unknown quantity and ideal for the groundhoppers).

So the draw is on Sunday at 11am UK time (1300 Finland). If you want to watch with a Finnish twist, the Finnish FA will be streaming it live on, including punditry by Mika Väyrynen. Make sure you stick with ETS for more details, and hopefully some stories from the long journey to France... Plus I've already got a pass from Mrs ETS to head to France in 2016!

And if Finland draw England, I'll see you in London!