The draw for the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying groups was made recently and has pitted the Republic of Ireland against European soccer giants Germany and Celtic cousins, Scotland. Both Ireland and Germany have recently faced each other during the 2014 World Cup qualifying process which saw the Germans come out on top comfortably on both occasions.
This will be the first competitive qualifying campaign to be overseen by the Republic’s new management team of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane as they aim to guide the Irish team to the European Championships which takes place in France in 2016. Ireland will compete in Group D with Germany, Poland, Georgia, Scotland and Gibraltar.
When Germany made the trip to Ireland during that campaign they easily overcame their hosts 6-1 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin and followed this with a comfortable 3-0 victory last October on route to qualifying for this year’s world cup in Brazil.
It has been over 26 years since Ireland were last in a qualifying group which included their Celtic cousins, Scotland, as they went on to qualify for Euro 88 in Germany which is seen as a significant milestone for sport in Ireland.
Poland will also be familiar rivals for Martin O’Neill’s boys in green having already drawn with them 0-0 in a friendly international in Dublin last November. Ireland also have recent history against Georgia having beaten them on the both occasions during the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign but they proved worthy opponents and will be seen as difficult rivals to overcome. Robbie Keane scored a hat-trick when we beat the Georgians 4-0 in a friendly last year.
Little is known about the strength of Gibraltar in their first qualifying campaign but should find life difficult among the other experienced nations in the group.
Once the draw had been made in UEFA headquarters in Geneva, Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill went on to say:
“It’s a difficult group but an exciting one and the games against Scotland will be a great occasion”
“It looks like a group, Germany apart, where teams might be able to take points off each other.”
Full reaction to the UEFA Euro 2016 draw can be viewed on UEFA.com.