The Associated Press DUBLIN (AP) — Frustrated at seeing the Netherlands paired again with Germany, Ronald Koeman was candid.
“I wasn’t happy because they are strong,” the Netherlands coach said at the 2020 European Championship qualifying draw on Sunday. “Germany is also not happy with Holland I think.”
The two leading countries being together in Group C was only possible because Germany was relegated last month from the top tier of the UEFA Nations League and had a lower seeding in the Dublin draw. It capped a miserable year for Germany that saw the world champions deposed with a group-stage exit in Russia in June.
The Netherlands were the architects of Germany’s downfall in the Nations League, claiming a win and draw against Joachim Loew’s team to reach the Final Four of European soccer’s new national team competition next June.
Euro 2020 qualifying starts before then, with the Netherlands hosting Germany on March 24 and the reverse fixture is on Sept. 6.
After failing to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, the Dutch are resurgent with a young side under the command of Koeman, who won Euro 1988 as a player.
“The development of the team is really positive,” Koeman said. “[Fans] have a lot of belief in the team.”
While Group C appears challenging, the other teams are Northern Ireland, Estonia and Belarus, with the top two qualifying automatically.
For the first continent-wide European Championship, none of the 12 host countries has guaranteed entry to the finals. Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena and Munich’s Allianz Arena are both venues.
Usually staged in one or two nations, UEFA distributed games across Europe to celebrate 60 years of the competition after finding it tough to find a single suitable host.
The tournament will open in Rome on June 12 before ending in London at Wembley Stadium, which will stage both semifinals and the final on July 12.