Spain, Italy and the Netherlands most recently qualified for UEFA EURO 2012, following in the footsteps of Germany and hosts Poland and Ukraine. However, six other group winners are yet to be decided, though some are much tighter than others, and the race for play-off places remains very much alive with the top two only settled in one section.
There are two more rounds of matches to be played, concluding next Tuesday. The nine pool winners, plus the runners-up with the best record against the sides placed first, third, fourth and fifth in their pool qualify directly, with the other second-placed teams entering the play-offs. More details, including the procedure for breaking ties, are in the official regulations.
Germany were the first team to qualify on 2 September and the second-placed race is also clearing. Austria's hopes were ended by a 0-0 draw with Turkey, who are two points ahead of Belgium with as many games left each. Turkey welcome Germany on 7 October when Belgium play Kazakhstan, but even if Belgium move ahead on that night, four days later they visit Germany while Turkey are at home to Azerbaijan.
The last set of September results have left four teams in contention. Russia held on to their two-point lead over the Republic of Ireland with a 0-0 Moscow draw while Armenia won 4-0 in Slovakia to move level with their hosts, a point behind Ireland. The 7 October fixtures take Russia to Slovakia and Ireland to Andorra, while Armenia welcome the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia knowing a win could leave them in second ahead of their closing trip to Dublin. Russia meet Andorra on the final day when FYROM welcome Slovakia.
Italy's late 1-0 win against Slovenia left the Azzurri uncatchable at the summit but second place remains in doubt. Serbia are a point clear of Estonia with a game in hand on both the Baltic nation and Slovenia, three back. If Serbia beat Italy on 7 October, second place is confirmed, while Estonia are in Northern Ireland hoping a win would keep them in contention. If Italy triumph and Estonia do not win, Slovenia can snatch the runners-up berth by beating Serbia on 11 October. It is even possible that wins for Northern Ireland against Estonia and in Italy would leave them second.
After their 0-0 draw in Romania, France are a point ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who beat Belarus twice in September to end their opponents' campaign. Romania are four points behind Bosnia and Herzegovina with a slim chance of second place. However, Bosnia and Herzegovina are at home to Luxembourg on 7 October when France welcome Albania. Thereby everything should come down to the top two meeting in Paris four days later.
The Netherlands are assured of qualification after winning all eight games. Even so, first place is not secure yet with Sweden six points behind, but whatever happens in the final set of matches, the Netherlands would finish as best runners-up at worst. Sweden finish at home to the Netherlands on 11 October but to overtake them must hope the Dutch lost at home to Moldova four days before, themselves beat Finland in Helsinki that day and also overturn their 4-1 loss in Amsterdam. Hungary, level on points with Sweden, have only a home game with Finland to go and have an inferior head-to-head with the second-placed side. Thus Sweden will secure a top-two finish with a Helsinki win.
The 6 September games proved crucial as Croatia defeated Israel 3-1 and moved a point ahead of Greece, held 1-1 in Latvia. That means Croatia will qualify with a 7 October win in Greece. If it goes to the final day, Croatia welcome Latvia and Greece visit Georgia. Whatever happens, Croatia and Greece are the top two.
England have opened up a six-point lead over Montenegro, who have two games left to the leaders' one. That is in fact a trip to Montenegro on 7 October, when a draw will qualify England. If Montenegro win, they would finish first by beating Switzerland four days later. However, Montenegro are only three points ahead of Switzerland, who could be in strong contention for second place if they win in Wales four days before their concluding match.
Denmark's home win against Norway pulled them level with both their neighbours and Portugal. Norway, however, only have one game left to their rivals' two and could not finish top in a three-way head-to-head. On 7 October Portugal welcome Iceland and Denmark visit Cyprus. However, the decider looks likely to be Portugal's trip to Denmark, the visitors having won their home game 3-1 should it go to head-to-head.
Spain, with six perfect wins, have secured first place. As for second position, the Czech Republic are two points in front of Scotland with a superior head-to-head. Scotland thereby need to pick up three more points from their trips to Liechtenstein and Spain than the Czech Republic manage at home to the reigning champions and then in Lithuania.
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