Tuesday 25 April 2017, 13:15

Derbies drawn out on road to France

  • Teams competing for eight World Cup spots

  • Olympic champions Germany drawn alongside Iceland, Sweden to face Denmark

  • England paired with neighbours Wales, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland also grouped together

After Kazakhstan, Albania, Israel, Moldova and the Faroe Islands all successfully cleared the first hurdle to reach the group stage of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 qualifying, all 35 contenders discovered their opponents on the road to France on Tuesday. Held in the Swiss city of Nyon, the draw produced the kind of exciting fixtures many fans were hoping for as some intriguing derbies have been put into place.

In Group 5, Olympic champions Germany meet Iceland, while silver medallists Sweden will have to prove their mettle against fellow Scandinavians Denmark in Group 4. England – the top European side at Canada 2015, after clinching bronze –  will face the likes of** **neighbours Wales, as wells as Russia, in Group 1.

"For us, the qualification for the World Cup is a must, and we want to get through without losing point," Germany coach Steffi Jones said after the draw. "We want to integrate more young players in 2018. Now, the focus is on the EURO in the summer, but after that it will be good to start planning."

Other teams to watch include Belgium, Portugal and Austria, who are making their first appearance at a UEFA Women’s EURO this summer and will be keen to continue this trend at the most important tournament in women’s football. Meanwhile, in Group 3, a tasty clash between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland promises more rivalry on the road to France.

Switzerland, who too are EURO debutants, have already tasted World Cup football, finishing ahead of Denmark, Iceland, Serbia, Israel and Malta to compete at Canada 2015. This time coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side face the likes of Scotland in Group 2, while Spain – who earned their first taste of World Cup action two years ago – will meet the likes of Austria in Group 7.

The seven group winners will join hosts France at the 2019 tournament. The qualifying group stage begins on 11 September 2017 and continues until 4 September 2018. The four group runners-up with the best records against the other sides in their pool will then face each other in two rounds of play-offs played over two legs in October and November 2018 to determine the last European participant.

Qualifying groups at a glance:

*Group 1 *England, Russia, Wales, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan

*Group 2 *Switzerland, Scotland, Poland, Belarus, Albania

*Group 3 *Norway, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia, Northern Ireland

*Group 4 *Sweden, Denmark, Ukraine, Hungary, Croatia

*Group 5 *Germany, Iceland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Faroe Islands

*Group 6 *Italy, Belgium, Romania, Portugal, Moldova

*Group 7 *Spain, Austria, Finland, Serbia, Israel