The four groups for the 16-team, 2021 European Championship in Italy are set. With a peak of roughly 200 viewers tuning in to the organizing committee’s midday Facebook live event, the 12 nations that competed at the most recent European Championship in 2019 were drawn into their respective groups. The four remaining participants will be determined at qualifying tournaments later this year.
Host Italy, Spain, Olympic qualifier Israel and the Netherlands were placed in Pot 1 and thus will not have a chance to meet until the knockout rounds of the tournament.
In Group A, the host Italians, managed by former MLB catcher Mike Piazza, will face Belgium, Austria, and the qualifier from the qualifying tournament in Utena, Lithuana. On home soil, Italy hopes to avenge its 2019 finals defeat to the Netherlands.
In Group B, Spain—which finished third in the 2019 tournament after a tough 1-0 semifinal loss to the eventual Dutch champions—will match up against Germany and Croatia, along with the winner of the Belgrade tourney.
Group C consists of Israel, France, Great Britain, and the winner of the Moscow qualifier. Team Israel’s general manager Peter Kurz was among the 200 viewers, as was Great Britain’s manager Drew Spencer. Spencer was excited about his team’s placement in Group C and expressed his feelings in a public post in the Facebook live event’s chat window.
The Netherlands—winners of the 2019 Baseball Euros—and perennial contenders the Czech Republic, meanwhile, will face off against one other in Group D, alongside Sweden and the qualifier from Bratislava.
The top two teams in each group qualify for the quarterfinals, with the bottom teams in each group playing for placement and to ensure qualification for the 2023 tournament. The two bottom finishers will have to survive a future qualification series in order to suit up at the next edition of the European Championship.
The 2021 competition is scheduled for Sep. 12-19 at three sites in and around Turin, Italy.
Graphics by the Confederation of European Baseball