Stage set for Ireland v Spain in 2020

Should both countries qualify, Ireland and Spain are set to meet in the group stages of the multi-city Euro 2020 Finals.

That’s one implication of yesterday’s news from Uefa, which saw Dublin and Bilbao paired as host cities in Group E.

It follows on from confirmation that every qualified host will be guaranteed two home games in the group phase.

The final group composition remains subject to seeding and to a draw, which will take place in Dublin next December.

The Aviva Stadium — or the Dublin Arena as it is known in Uefa-speak — will play host to three group fixtures and one knock-out game in 2020, as will the 53,000-capacity San Mames Stadium, home to Athletic Bilbao. However, successful qualifying host nations are not guaranteed a home game in the knock-out stage.

The big news out of yesterday’s Uefa executive committee meeting in Nyon was confirmation that Brussels has been dropped as a host city because of delays in building a new stadium in the Belgian capital.

Instead, Wembley will now host no less than seven games at the finals, comprising three group games, one round of 16 tie, a semi-final and the final.

The Stadio Olimpico in Rome has been selected as the venue for the tournament’s opening match.

The host city pairings were decided by means of a random draw — from six different lists of city pairings established on the basis of sporting strength and geographical considerations — and are as follows: Group A: Rome and Baku. Group B: Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen.

Group C: Amsterdam and Bucharest. Group D: London and Glasgow. Group E: Bilbao and Dublin. Group F: Munich and Budapest.

Welcoming the pairing of Dublin and Bilbao, FAI CEO John Delaney said: “The host city pairings mark an exciting chapter in the build-up to the European Championships, which will see Dublin and Ireland hosting the biggest ever sporting event to take place in our country.

“A huge amount of work has gone into preparation for the tournament and we are making enormous progress in preparing the Aviva Stadium for when it becomes a focus for worldwide attention during this prestigious competition.

“I look forward to welcoming our friends from Bilbao to Dublin where we can build a strong partnership working together to ensure the very best organisational and sporting structures are in place for the summer of 2020.”

Meanwhile, in domestic news, former Shamrock Rovers defender Simon Madden has signed for St Patrick’s Athletic.

“When we heard that Simon became available, it was a no-brainer to try and get him in and we’re delighted to have him here at the club club,” said Pat’s boss Liam Buckley.

“He has huge experience having played in the league for over eight years and that will rub off on the other lads in the squad.

"We need strong competition for places across the team and Simon will help raise standards as he is a top class pro.”

The Inchicore club also announced that midfielders Killian Brennan and Owen Garvan have re-signed ahead of the 2018 SSE Airtricity League season.


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