The last four places at UEFA EURO 2016 will be decided over the coming week. UEFA.com's local experts tell us how the eight play-off hopefuls are shaping up.
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The last four places at UEFA EURO 2016 will be decided over the coming week as the play-offs run from Thursday to Tuesday. UEFA.com's team of correspondents gave us a pointer as to how the eight hopefuls are shaping up.
Norway v Hungary
(Thursday & Sunday)
Eivind Aarre on Norway: Part of the Under-21 team that eliminated France in a 2012 play-off, Norway striker Marcus Pedersen now hopes to contribute to Hungary's downfall in the play-offs for UEFA EURO 2016. "These must be Norway's most important matches for ten years," said the in-form Strømsgodset striker. "Norway have created a lot of chances of late which they failed to score. I hope my goalscoring abilities will help."
Matthew Watson-Broughton on Hungary: The importance of reaching UEFA EURO 2016 cannot be overstated as Hungary seek to maintain the momentum generated by recent investment in infrastructure. The once all-conquering national team has not been to a EURO since 1972, but Gábor Király, set to win his 100th cap in Oslo, is not looking beyond the first leg. "Only the game is important, nothing else," the goalkeeper said. "We have to do what we can and believe in what we can do."
Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland
(Friday & Monday)
Fuad Krvavac on Bosnia and Herzegovina: The first leg in Zenica is sold out. Indeed, even if the stadium had been twice as large it is unlikely that any tickets would now be available. Fans have high hopes after the way the Dragons finished off their group campaign; in stark contrast to the low expectations after the disappointing start to UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying. How much will they miss Muhamed Bešić, suspended for the home leg?
Aidan Fitzmaurice on the Republic of Ireland: Ireland have a host of injury worries going into the tie and Shane Long, scorer of last month's winner against world champions Germany, chief among them. If he does not make it then Ipswich Town's Daryl Murphy is likely to get the nod. The 32-year-old hit 27 goals in England's second division last season but was 14 games without a goal going into the weekend … he duly struck a hat-trick against Rotherham United. A timely return to form.
Ukraine v Slovenia
(Saturday & Tuesday)
Igor Linnyk on Ukraine: The 35,000 home tickets for the first leg sold out on day one, and the national team have traditionally responded to the passionate support which comes as standard at the Arena Lviv: Ukraine are unbeaten in 13 games at the venue (W11 D2). Having narrowly missed out on the 2014 World Cup finals, fans expect success this time round, coach Mykhailo Fomenko saying: "Ukraine lost all their previous finals play-offs, but that is history now. We are living for today and focusing on the future."
Rok Šinkovc on Slovenia: Slovenia is a young nation, but the country's two million people are familiar with play-offs, and have won three out of four so far, starting with the 1999 triumph over Ukraine that sealed qualification to their first final tournament: UEFA EURO 2000. There is cause for optimism this time too, the likes of goalkeepers Samir Handanovič (Inter) and Jan Oblak (Atlético Madrid) not the only players in great club form. 'Operation Ukraine' is ready to roll.
Sweden v Denmark
(Saturday & Tuesday)
Sujay Dutt on Sweden: Sweden will have to do without Pontus Wernbloom. "He injured his groin during [CSKA Moskva's 2-1 loss at Krasnodar] yesterday," said Sweden boss Erik Hamrén in Stockholm on Monday. "The minimum recovery time is ten days, by which time this will all be over." No replacement will be called in for Wernbloom, the coach adding: "We have the central midfielders we need. We've got 23 players in the squad, like we usually do."
Peter Bruun on Denmark: Fans were underwhelmed by Denmark's qualifying campaign, but a play-off against eternal rivals Sweden has captured public imagination – tickets for the home leg sold out in no time. Morten Olsen and his squad gathered north of Copenhagen on Monday afternoon, with the coach sure a few extra days training together can "give us some more time to make everything click, to make sure that we all believe in each other and the things we do".