Germany, the 2009 winners, face another tough task if they are to reach the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship after the qualifying group stage draw in Nyon placed them in a group featuring Belarus.
Although Germany will not be on hand to defend their trophy in Denmark this summer after finishing their section behind Iceland, they will be sure to provide a stern test for a Belarus side gearing up for their second successive finals appearance. Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and San Marino complete Group 1.
The draw largely kept apart this summer's finalists, though Iceland were drawn together with 2009 runners-up England; Norway, Belgium and Azerbaijan make up Group 8. They are in different sections this summer, as are Switzerland and Spain who are coupled in a tough-looking Group 5 with Croatia, Georgia and Estonia.
Elsewhere, five-time champions Italy were pitted against Turkey, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland and Liechtenstein in Group 7. Denmark, who qualified for this summer's finals automatically as hosts, will play Serbia, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Faroe Islands in Group 4.
With Israel automatically qualifying for the finals in June 2013 as hosts, the remaining 52 teams were drawn into ten groups, eight with five sides and two with six, with the nations allocated to five draw pots in accordance with their coefficient ranking.
Group stage matches will be played according to a standard, home and away, league system, kicking off on 25 March this year and concluding with the final games on 10 September 2012. The ten group winners and four best runners-up will move on to the following month's play-offs, with the winners of those seven two-legged ties joining Israel in the final tournament.
The 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship takes place in Denmark in June with Belarus, Czech Republic, England, Iceland, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine qualifying along with the hosts.
Qualifying group stage draw
Group 1: Germany, Belarus, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, San Marino
Group 2: Sweden, Ukraine, Finland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta
Group 3: Czech Republic, Wales, Armenia, Montenegro, Andorra
Group 4: Serbia, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Faroe Islands
Group 5: Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, Georgia, Estonia
Group 6: Russia, Portugal, Moldova, Poland, Albania
Group 7: Italy, Turkey, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Liechtenstein
Group 8: England, Belgium, Iceland, Norway, Azerbaijan
Group 9: Romania, France, Slovakia, Latvia, Kazakhstan
Group 10: Netherlands, Austria, Scotland, Bulgaria, Luxembourg
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