In what was a fairly low-key event in Dublin, the draw was made for the 2020 edition of the European Championships, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the competition. Germany were drawn against neighbours and familiar old foes the Netherlands, another familiar adversary in Northern Ireland, and two fresher opponents, Estonia and Belarus.
With Germany ranked 11th and in the second pot for the draw, there was always the fear of being lined up against one of the big hitters. In the end, the results are not too bad. Coach Jogi Löw will be looking to improve on his team’s last two results against the Netherlands, who were drawn from the top pot after their success in the recent Europa Nations League group phase.
Having played on 42 previous occasions, two more matches against the Netherlands will surely whet the appetite. After a dreadful three-goal defeat in Amsterdam, die Nationalmannschaft out up a far better show in the return fixture in Gelsenkirchen, but two defensive lapses in the last five minutes saw defeat snatched out of the jaws of victory.
In their previous outings against the Elftal, Germany have the better record with 15 wins, 16 draws and 11 defeats.
Northern Ireland have been frequent opponents in both Euro and World Cup qualifiers, and this will be the sixth time Germany have been drawn in the same qualifying group as Norn Iron – and the second in succession after the recent qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. The teams also met at the Euro finals in 2016, which resulted in a 1-0 win for Jogi Löw’s side.
Germany have played the Ulstermen on 17 previous occasions, winning 11, drawing four and losing twice.
The first of the two newer opponents is Estonia, who will play against Germany for the first time in 80 years. Before being absorbed into the Soviet Union at the end of the Second World War, the small Baltic state played the Nationalelf on three occasions in the late 1930s, including a qualifying match for the 1938 World Cup, where Sepp Herberger’s team ran out 4-1 winners.
The three matches resulted in three German victories, with eleven goals scored just the one conceded.
Of the four group opponents, Belarus are the one team that have not played Germany in a competitive international. There has only been one match between the two countries, a 2-2 draw in Kaiserslautern in May 2008.
The campaign will begin on 21st March 2019, with the top two teams from each of the ten qualifying groups progressing to the final tournament. These 20 teams will be joined by the four playoff winners.