With Germany having retained the FIFA Women's World Cup in China on Sunday, the focus now switches to their bid for a fifth straight contintental title with UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualifying resuming this month. With less than two years to go until the finals in Finland, uefa.com looks at the state of play with only the group winners to qualifying automatically and the runners-up to join the four third-placed teams with the best record against the top four in their pool in five play-offs next autumn.
Three sides still have perfect records with the Czech Republic top after away wins in Northern Ireland and Belarus. World Cup quarter-finalists England beat preliminary round qualifiers Northern Ireland 4-0 and return to action on 27 October at home to Belarus while Spain, 3-0 winners in the former Soviet republic, visit the Czech Republic the same day. Belarus also have three points after defeating Northern Ireland 5-0.
Sweden are the favourites for this group and wins in Italy and Romania and at home to Hungary - the latter two by a 7-0 scoreline - have left them in control. The Republic of Ireland won 2-0 in Romania to move within three points of Sweden, though they have lost to Italy, who are three points further back with a game in hand. Hungary and Preliminary round winners Romania have one point and they welcome Italy and visit Ireland respectively on 27 October with Sweden, back from China, next in action in May at home to the Azzurre.
Iceland seemed to be cruising in this group after their June wins against top seeds France and Serbia, but suffered a shock 2-1 defeat in Slovenia in August. Still three points clear, they do not play against until May while France, three behind with a game in hand, visit Serbia and Slovenia in October. Greece won 2-1 in Serbia to join their opponents and Slovenia on three points from three games.
Holders Germany, bidding for a fifth straight European title, went into their World Cup defence fully in control of their continental qualifying pool. Their 7-0 win against Switzerland in August added to big victories against the Netherland and Wales, and the Dutch and Swiss are five points adrift with Belgium and the Welsh yet to get off the mark. On 28 October preliminary round table-toppers Wales welcome Switzerland while Germany play Belgium and later that week the defending champions go to the Netherlands where they could put one foot in the finals.
Top seeds Denmark, who competed in China, do not start their campaign until 27 October at home to Portugal. Ukraine have stolen a march with two wins against Slovakia and an important 2-1 defeat of Scotland. Slovakia, who played in the preliminary round, are second having defeated Portugal, who drew 0-0 in Scotland in the other fixture. Scotland go to Slovakia on 27 October four days before welcoming Denmark.
Russia's 5-1 win in Austria kept up their perfect start and with nine points they are two ahead of Poland with a game in hand. However, 2005 runners-up and World Cup semi-finalists Norway have two wins and are yet to concede, and welcome Russia on 27 October with the aim of ending 2007 in first place. Austria's 5-0 win against preliminary round winners Israel took them off the mark and lifted them above their opponents, who held Poland in May.
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