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Carnival atmosphere for UEFA EURO 2016 draw

Published: Saturday 22 February 2014, 10.50CET
The Mediterranean city of Nice and its world-renowned carnival provide a festive backdrop to the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying draw at the Palais des Congrès Acroprolis on Sunday.
by Ian Holyman
from Nice

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Published: Saturday 22 February 2014, 10.50CET

Carnival atmosphere for UEFA EURO 2016 draw

The Mediterranean city of Nice and its world-renowned carnival provide a festive backdrop to the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying draw at the Palais des Congrès Acroprolis on Sunday.

The brilliantly colourful flower parade of Nice's celebrated carnival will be the focus on Saturday, but 24 hours later attention will switch to the Mediterranean city's Palais des Congrès Acroprolis for the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying draw.

Floats decorated with stunning floral arrangements will parade down the Promenade des Anglais along the seafront in Nice's annual celebrations. On Sunday, it will be a litany of famous football faces, from national team coaches to legends of the game, that will brighten up the southern French city where a record 53 national teams will see their path to the UEFA EURO 2016 final tournament mapped out. You can follow a live stream of the draw on from 12:00CET.

Presented by UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino and former EURO winners Ruud Gullit and Bixente Lizarazu, the draw will be carried out by 13 goalkeeping greats, including ex-French international and UEFA EURO 2000 champion Fabien Barthez, who will bring the Henri Delaunay Cup on stage inside the convention centre located a stone's throw from the Mediterranean.

Five other former European champions, Ivo Viktor (Czechoslovakia, 1976), Andreas Köpke (Germany, 1996), Antonis Nikopolidis (Greece, 2004), Dino Zoff (Italy, 1968) and Peter Schmeichel (Denmark, 1992), are among those who will pluck out the teams, who are divided into six pots based on qualifying and final tournament results from the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2012, as well as 2014 World Cup qualifying.

Holders Spain, as well as former champions Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Greece are all in a heavyweight-laden Pot 1 along with England, Portugal, Russia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, while first-timers Gibraltar are placed among those less-fancied teams looking to spring surprises from Pot 6.

Eight groups of six teams and one of five will then contest fixtures home and away to clinch one of the 23 available slots for the final tournament, which will be staged in ten venues across France. The nine group winners and group runners-up qualify directly as does the best third-placed side. The remaining eight third-place finishers will contest play-offs to determine the final four slots.

Hosts of the inaugural UEFA European Championship in 1960 and again in 1984, France are assured of their place in the final tournament, and will play centralised friendlies with the nations in the five-team Group I as part of their build-up. No points will be attributed for those games, which will be played - like the qualifying matches themselves - across the new Week of Football.

Games will be staged Europe-wide from Thursday through to Tuesday with scheduled weekend kick-off slots at 18:00CET and 20:45CET while those ties played on weekdays will begin at 20:45CET.

More information is available in the Qualifying draw press kit.

Last updated: 22/02/14 12.06CET

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