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Squad deadline looms

Germany and the Czech Republic both have one last game before naming their final squads for UEFA EURO 2004™.

Bobic trial
Hertha BSC Berlin striker Fredi Bobic is expected to start in Germany's friendly against Switzerland in Basel as coach Rudi Völler decides who will partner Kevin Kuranyi in Portugal, while Andreas Hinkel and Arne Friedrich contest the right-back spot. All three players are expected to be in the squad.

Freier out
Völler, who lost the injured midfielder Paul Freier from his provisional 22-man squad at the weekend, must also decide who to call up from his Under-21 side - with Lukas Podolski rumoured to be the frontrunner. One other player will also get a call into the 23-man party.

Thurre loses battle
Switzerland coach Jakob Kuhn put paid to any speculation by naming his planned UEFA EURO 2004™ squad before tonight's match. Having already lost striker Marco Streller with a broken leg at the weekend, Kuhn had to contend with further bad news as fellow-forward Léonard Thurre also lost his battle with injury. Kuhn called PSV Eindhoven striker Johan Vonlanthen into his final squad, while defenders Remo Meyer and Stéphane Grichting failed to make the cut for Portugal.

Chapuisat reaches 100
Switzerland will be boosted by the return from injury of defensive rock Murat Yakin, while veteran striker Stéphane Chapuisat will lead the team as he wins his 100th international cap. Kuhn will hope that his players come through tonight's game unscathed and he is not forced into further changes.

Plašil under threat
Midfield players Jaroslav Plašil and Miroslav Matusovic are considered most at threat of being dropped from coach Karel Brückner's provisional squad of 24 as the Czech Republic prepare to take on Bulgaria in Prague.

Matusovic favoured
Plasil was on the bench for AS Monaco FC's UEFA Champions League final defeat against FC Porto and has played once under Brückner. The uncapped Matusovic scored ten goals last season in helping FC Baník Ostrava win the league title.

Bulgaria full-strength
Brückner will probably start cold victims Tomáš Rosický and AC Sparta Praha captain Karel Poborský on the bench, but Bulgaria coach Plamen Markov, who has already named his final squad for Portugal, is expected to open with his strongest XI.

Bojinov debut
Centre-back Predrag Pazin is the only injury doubt and may have to make way for Iliyan Stoyanov or Zlatomir Zagorcic, while talented US Lecce youngster Valeri Bojinov will probably make his debut for Bulgaria as a substitute.

Thumping win
The Czech Republic recorded a thumping 6-0 win the last time the two sides met in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Prague in October 2001. "I think there is no psychological burden on us because of that heavy defeat, but I hope and believe it is now in past. The game against the Czech Republic is our last friendly and it is very important for us. We will play against one of Europe's leading sides and we must be must be at our best," Markov said.

Last chance
Czech Republic will play their last game before EURO 2004™ on Sunday, when they host Estonia in Teplice, but by then their final squad will be known.