Russia, Croatia seeded at Euro draw

Russia and Croatia have been seeded ahead of the Euro 2012 draw

although neither team qualified for this year’s World Cup in South

Africa.

Qualifying for the tournament starts in September and runs

until November 2011. Although Russia and Croatia failed to make the

World Cup finals, they are among the nine top-seeded teams that

cannot be drawn together.

As co-hosts, Poland and Ukraine qualify for the tournament

automatically. Neither qualified for the World Cup.

The qualifying round will produce the other 14 finalists at

Euro 2012.

In addition to Russia and Croatia, the top-seeded countries

in Pot 1 also include European champion Spain and Germany,

Netherlands, Italy, England, France and Portugal.

Greece, the 2004 champion, is in Pot 2, along with other

World Cup qualifiers, Switzerland, Serbia, Denmark and Slovakia,

plus the Czech Republic, Sweden, Turkey and Romania. The seeding

system was based on UEFA’s national team ranking system.

Sunday’s draw at Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Sciences will

divide the 51 teams in the running to qualify for the tournament

into nine groups.

There will be six groups of six teams and three groups of

five. The nine winners and the runner-up with the best record

qualify directly for the final tournament. The remaining eight

runners-up will go into a home-and-away playoff round that will be

played in November 2011. Four teams in those playoffs will be

seeded.

The draw ceremony will mark the 50th anniversary of the

Soviet Union winning the first European championship and the scene

fits the occasion. Once the tallest building in Europe, the Palace

of Culture and Sciences was a gift of the Soviet Union to the

people of Poland.

Former Polish stars Zbigniew Boniek and Andrzej Szarmach will

help with the draw and will be joined by former Ukraine star Oleh

Blokhin and striker Andriy Shevchenko.

Although preparations for the 2012 tournament have hit major

construction delays and other snags, UEFA now says everything is on

schedule.

“Preparations for UEFA Euro 2012 are going well,” UEFA

general secretary Gianni Infantino told uefa.com this week.

“We are well on track. The draw is the kickoff for a Euro

which will take place in central and eastern Europe. We are all

convinced that it will be a fantastic Euro, and we are all working

hard toward that,” he said.

Seedings pots:

Pot 1: Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, Croatia,

Portugal, France, Russia.

Pot 2: Greece, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia,

Turkey, Denmark, Slovakia, Romania.

Pot 3: Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Norway, Ireland, Scotland,

Northern Ireland, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Pot 4: Slovenia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Belarus,

Belgium, Wales, Macedonia, Cyprus.

Pot 5: Montenegro, Albania, Estonia, Georgia, Moldova,

Iceland, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein.

Pot 6: Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Malta, Faroe Islands, Andorra,

San Marino.