Macedonia found itself in Group C during today’s draw for the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifications, together with Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus and Luxembourg.
Former German national team keeper Andreas Köpke drew Macedonia’s name for Group C. The draw went as follows: first the pot 1 teams were selected, than pot 6, pot 5, pot 4, pot 3 and finally pot 2 teams. By the time Macedonia’s name was called, Spain from pot 1 and Luxembourg from pot 6 already comprised two of the teams in Group C. Then, moments later, the other three teams became known in Belarus (pot 4), Slovakia (pot 3) and Ukraine (pot 2).
Spain (#1 in FIFA rankings)
The Group winners, group runners-up and the best third placed team will automatically join hosts France at the EURO 2016 tournament. Afterwards, there will be four more remaining sports that will be determined after a play-off between the remaining third placed teams among the 9 groups (the best third place team, as mentioned earlier, automatically books a spot and does not need to compete in the play-off).
The opponent from pot 1 was Spain, one of the most dominant teams in recent times. The current manager, Boshko Gjurovski, actually played against Spain back on the 12th of October in 1994 during the EURO 1996 Qualifying tournament. Macedonia was in the same group with Spain and lost twice. Additionally, Macedonia and Spain played a friendly match on the 12th of August in 2009 which Spain won 2:3. Macedonia had a shocking 2:0 lead at halftime of that game thanks to a brace by Goran Pandev, but Spain came storming back with three goals in the 2nd half..
Macedonia has never squared off against Ukraine in a qualifier, but did face them in two friendlies some 10 years ago. On the 11th of October in 2003, the teams settled for a 0:0 draw in Ukraine, while Macedonia won 1:0 in a home match on the 31st of March in 2004.
Slovakia, the opponent from pot 3, is a familiar opponent for Macedonia since they were also in the same group during the EURO 2012 qualifications. Macedonia conceded a late goal to lose 1:0 away to Slovakia and later played a 1:1 draw at home. Eight years before that, in the EURO 2004 qualifications, Macedonia and Slovakia were once again in the same group. In March of 2003, Macedonia lost 0:2 at home, while 6 months later the result was 1:1 on the road. Furthermore, Macedonia and Slovakia found themselves in the same group for the World Cup 2002 qualifications as well. Slovakia was a much superior opponent to Macedonia at that time. After a 2:0 win at home, Slovakia then destroyed Macedonia 0:5 in Skopje in the last matchday of the qualifications tournament.
Macedonia and Belarus, meanwhile, have never met before, not in any qualifier or even a friendly.
Finally, Luxembourg and Macedonia have played two prior friendly matches. In 2008, Macedonia celebrated a resounding a 1:4 win on the road, but in 2012 Luxembourg got some revenge by winning 2:1.
The remaining groups are on the next page: