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Europe's night of destiny

Published: Wednesday 12 October 2005, 8.04CET
The battle to secure a place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals in Germany reaches its climax tonight with six European berths still to be filled.

Published: Wednesday 12 October 2005, 8.04CET

Europe's night of destiny

The battle to secure a place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals in Germany reaches its climax tonight with six European berths still to be filled.

The battle to secure a place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup reaches its climax tonight with six berths still available on this continent for next summer's tournament.

English joy
Eight European teams have already booked their ticket to Germany but, so far, only four (Netherlands, Ukraine, Portugal and Italy) have done so by winning their qualifying group. Although both have qualified to join the hosts at the finals, Poland and England are still competing for top spot when they meet at Old Trafford in Group 6, with Croatia guaranteed to progress from Group 8 and Norway assured a play-off spot in Group 5.

Swedish hopes
With England or Poland claiming one of the best runners-up berths, the other side likely to qualify directly from second place is expected to come from Group 8. Croatia lead Sweden in the race for pole position, but the only way Sweden could surrender their best runners-up slot is by losing heavily at home to Iceland.

Czech chance
This could, hypothetically, let in the Czech Republic on goal difference, but only if the Czechs defeated Finland by a similarly emphatic margin. Should the Czechs draw or lose in Helsinki, Romania will finish above them thanks to their stronger head-to-head record.

Irish dreams
With only two points separating the top four in Group 4, all eyes will be on the match in Dublin where the Republic of Ireland must overcome Switzerland to guarantee a play-off berth. Victories for France and Ireland would earn Les Bleus a trip to Germany and Ireland a play-off tie. A Swiss success, however, would leave France needing to beat Cyprus and score four more goals than the Swiss on the night to secure automatic qualification, with Ireland and Israel missing out.

Spanish hopes
Group 7 also throws up an epic finale with Serbia and Montenegro going into their final game at home to Bosnia-Herzegovina with a two-point advantage over second-placed Spain. A victory will send them through, although Spain and Bosnia-Herzegovina could yet win the group if results go their way.

Turkish delight?
In Group 3, Slovakia and Russia lock horns in Bratislava knowing three points will earn second position, while in Group 2 three teams - Turkey, Denmark and Greece - are contesting the play-off spot. Turkey visit Albania knowing only a win will keep their rivals out of contention. It promises to be an enthralling evening of European football, with uefa.com keeping you in touch with events as they happen.

Last updated: 15/04/12 5.13CET

http://www.uefa.com/worldcup/news/newsid=351032.html#europes+night+destiny

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