Spain will face Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, Macedonia and Luxembourg following the draw for the Euro 2016 qualifying competition made on Sunday.
Spain is hoping for its third successive European title.
When the results of the Nice draw were announced there was already a feeling of triumph in some quarters that Spain was returning to Kiev where it lifted the 2012 European Cup.
“A red carpet,” crowed Spain’s most-read newspaper Marca. The sports daily also conceded that Ukraine could be tricky opponent, soberly adding that Spain must finish first or second in the group to ensure qualification.
Vicente del Bosque who coaches the national side was characteristically cautious, not least because he felt that climate would be influential as many trips will be to teams from eastern Europe.
“It’s not as easy a group as it might appear to some,” he was quoted as saying by the UEFA website. “We are facing emerging teams who are young and strong,” Del Bosque said.
“The journeys will be long and our rivals will make things uncomfortable.” It would be necessary to go game by game, he warned “and not underestimate any of our opponents.”
The qualifying competition, which lasts for 13 months, begins in September.
Italy, runners-up to Spain in 2012, will meet Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Malta in their section.
Gibraltar, UEFA’s newest association, will play Germany, Ireland, Poland, Scotland and Georgia.
Originally drawn in the same group as Spain they wer moved to another one because of political tensions between the two countries.
Finals in France 2016
The nine group winners and runners-up will qualify automatically for the Finals, along with the best third-placed team.
The eight other third-placed teams will meet in playoffs to decide the final four teams to take part in the finals in France in 2016.