England face tough group to qualify for European Championship

England face a difficult route to qualify for the 2025 European Championship, having drawn France, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.

England head into qualifying as the reigning champions after their historic Euro 2022 win at Wembley. But given they failed to reach the knockout stages of the Nations League, they were seeded second for the qualifying draw ahead of the 2025 tournament.

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Their place in pot two meant they were guaranteed to be drawn with one of France, Germany, Netherlands or Spain in qualifying.

Sarina Wiegman's side, who are ranked fourth in the world, landed France who are ranked third, and Sweden who are ranked fifth -- alongside the Republic of Ireland in group C.

It's as tough a task as England could have got. The qualifying structure means the top two teams from Group C will progress automatically to Euro 2025, while the third and fourth-placed teams will go into the playoffs where they'll face teams from League B and League C.

Wiegman admitted the draw will be difficult, but said he side will be ready for the challenge.

"It's a tough draw but it is a really exciting draw," Wiegman said.

"Of course, we all went into the draw knowing that Sweden -- one of the top countries -- would be in Pot 3 because of their Nations League performance in 2023 so with France, Sweden, and Ireland in our group, it will be very competitive.

"It's exciting and now we just have to show up and perform. For the fans and for football, it is really good because it will be so competitive.

"France have a very good squad and they showed their qualities by reaching the Nations League final.

"I'm really excited to play against France because we haven't faced them during my time as England head coach, so I'm really looking forward to those two games."

But for England to go through to Euro 2025 automatically they'll need to overcome a tricky group. France reached the final of the Nations League only to fall to Spain 2-0 but possess a world-class squad under Herve Renard.

Sweden won the Euros in 1984 and took third place in the 2019 and 2023 World Cups, while the Republic of Ireland will also offer a stern test given their recent improvement and abundance of experienced WSL players in their ranks.

Elsewhere, Netherlands have been drawn in the same group as Italy, Norway and Finland. World champions and Nations League winners Spain are with Denmark, Belgium and Czechia while Germany have been drawn with Austria, Iceland and Poland.

The qualifiers are played across three separate blocks. Matchdays one and two are between April 3-9, three and four are between May 29 and June 4 while the final two group stage fixtures are to be played between July 10 and 16.

League A

Group A1: Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Finland

Group A2: Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Czech Republic

Group A3: France, England, Sweden, Ireland

Group A4: Germany, Austria, Iceland, Poland

League B

Group B1: Switzerland, Hungary, Turkey, Azerbaijan

Group B2: Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Israel

Group B3: Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Malta

Group B4: Wales, Croatia, Ukraine, Kosovo

League C

Group C1: Belarus, Lithuania, Cyprus, Georgia

Group C2: Slovenia, Latvia, North Macedonia, Moldova

Group C3: Greece, Montenegro, Andorra, Faroe Islands

Group C4: Romania, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Armenia

Group C5: Albania, Estonia, Luxembourg

Matchdays 1-2: April 3-9, 2024

Matchdays 3-4: May 29-June 4, 2024

Matchdays 5-6: July 10-16, 2024

Playoffs Round 1: Oct. 23-29 2024

Round 2: Nov. 27-Dec. 3 2024