Russia and Croatia in top pot for Euro draw

WARSAW - Russia and Croatia, who have failed to make this year's World Cup finals in South Africa, will be among the top seeds when the draw for the qualifying round of Euro 2012 is made on Sunday.

The qualifying competition, which starts in September and lasts until November 2011, will feature 51 teams split into nine groups. There will be six groups of six teams and three groups made up of five teams.

In all 14 teams will join the co-hosts Poland and Ukraine in the finals in 2012.

The top seeded nations are European champions Spain, along with Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, Portugal, France, Croatia and Russia.

Greece, the surprise 2004 champions, who are in the World Cup finals, are in Pot Two, along with fellow World Cup finalists Switzerland, Serbia, Denmark and Slovakia.


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union's success in winning the first European Championship in 1960, and a theme of Sunday's draw at 11am GMT at Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Sciences will recall those first finals.

Russia, the Soviet Union's footballing successors, however, will be absent from the World Cup in June and July after losing to Slovenia in a playoff while Croatia will also be absent after only finishing third in their qualifying group behind England and Ukraine.

Poland and Ukraine will also be absent from the World Cup after Poland finished second bottom in their group and Ukraine were eliminated by Greece in a play-off.

The World Cup playoffs became the issue of intense debate when FIFA decided to hold the draw after seeding the teams based on the country's world ranking.

FIFA was criticised for failing to indicate this beforehand whereas UEFA has ensured the playoff criteria is clearly established.


The runner-up with the best record will automatically join the nine group winners in the finals with the remaining eight runners-up contesting the playoffs.

UEFA has confirmed the top four ranked countries out of the eight will be seeded for the playoffs, with the higher-ranked country playing at home in the second leg.

A UEFA spokesman told Reuters: "We do not want there to be any confusion about this. The rules have already been set in stone and that is the way the playoffs will be organised."

UEFA's seedings were finalised after the completion of the World Cup qualifying competition.

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

Pot 4: Slovenia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Belarus, Belgium, Wales, Macedonia, Cyprus

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