Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Israel Faces Some Tough Competition for Euro 2016 Draw

Israel is in Group B with Bosnia and Herzegovina, rising stars Belgium, Wales, Cyprus and Andorra

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: February 24th, 2014 in Sports » World

While still avoiding some of the big names at Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifying draw, Israel was still placed alongside two of Europe’s rising stars as they hope to reach their first major tournament since the 1970 World Cup.

Israel was placed in Group B alongside Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Wales, Cyprus, and Andorra, with the qualifying matches to be played from September 7 to October 13, 2015.

The European Championships, which will be held in France, will see 24 nations compete, 8 more than past events.

As such, the top two teams of each group will automatically be qualified for Euro 2016, with the best third-place finisher also gaining immediate qualification, while the remaining eight third-placed teams will go to playoffs in November 2015.

Seeing his team placed in Group B, Israeli coach Eli Gutman could be seen with a smile on his face; however, this was before Belgium became the final member of the group.

Israel ended it’s World Cup 2014 and Euro 2012 qualifying groups in third place, avoiding powerful teams like Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and England in the first pot.

In Pot 2, they hoped to face the likes of Hungary or Ireland, but were instead given Belgium, a team which has been on the rise in recent years, qualifying for this year’s FIFA World Cup tournament unbeaten. Gutman spoke of their immediate reaction to the draw, saying that “We began the draw with a smile until we received Belgium.”

He later added that “We are going to fight for the group. There are no easy matches, but we are very optimistic and determined. This is an interesting and balanced group.”

Belgium’s squad includes such talent’s as Manchester city’s Vincent Kompany, Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini, and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, among many other players from some of the most prestigious clubs in the world.

Israel’s captain, Yossi Benayoun, commented on the teams, saying that “This is a tough draw with many good teams, even though I have already heard people underestimating Bosnia. Belgium is a rising power and is certainly one of the better teams in Europe. Wales is also a very strong side and four teams have a good chance of qualifying. We must believe we can do it.”

Elsewhere, Spain will see their campaign for a third European Championship win, placed in Group C alongside Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, Macedonia, and Luxembourg. Italy, who were the runners-up to Spain in 2012, are in Group H alongside Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, and Malta.

UEFA’s newest association, Gibraltar, is matched with Germany, Ireland, Poland, Scotland and Georgia. This year’s toughest group appears to be Group A, with the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, and Kazakhstan being in competition.

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