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Belgium, Germany, Spain on course for last eight

Belgium, Germany and Spain are well-placed to follow Croatia into the 2015 UEFA European Under-17 Championship knockout stage when Groups A and B conclude on Tuesday.

A goal from Kuki contributed to Spain ending Bulgaria's hopes of reaching the quarter-finals
A goal from Kuki contributed to Spain ending Bulgaria's hopes of reaching the quarter-finals ©Sportsfile

Tuesday

Group A

Austria (1pt) v Bulgaria (0), (16.00CET, Sozopol)
• Manfred Zsak's Austria must consign the hosts to their third loss, coupled with Spain succumbing to already-qualified Croatia, to retain any possibility of staying in the tournament on goal difference or goals scored. "There is still a glimmer of hope, but we have to be realistic," Zsak told UEFA.com. "First of all, we have to take three points from Bulgaria, which will be hard. It is very difficult to get through their solid defence. We will need our best performance."

Manfred Zsak: 'We must be realistic'
Manfred Zsak: 'We must be realistic'©LAP.bg

• Signing off with a win is Bulgaria coach Alexander Dimitrov's priority for the hosts. "We might be out of the competition, but we want to leave with our heads held high," he said. "There is still a lot to play for in the last game. The boys played much better in the second match against Spain [a 2-1 defeat] and we can still improve. Austria are a very strong side, they still have a chance to go through and will give their best, but this game is also important to us in terms of the pride and development of this team."

Croatia (6) v Spain (4), (16.00, Sliven)
• Dario Bašić will be without Martin Erlić, who sustained a shoulder injury in Croatia's qualification-clinching 1-0 victory over Austria on Saturday. The right-back might not be the only person to make way; with a place in the last eight secure, Bašić is considering rotating his squad. "I'm glad I have good players who didn't feature against Austria who can come in and take a role," he said. "We made two changes for the Austria match which were for the good of the team and getting through to the quarter-finals."

• Spain coach Santi Denia – whose charges require a point to progress – was effusive in his praise of Croatia. "The game is going to be incredibly difficult because our opponents are simply that good," he said. It is defensively where Croatia are excelling, having kept five consecutive clean sheets in the 2014/15 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. "They had a perfect campaign in the elite round and they've won their first two games here without conceding a goal. That shows you just how solid a team Croatia are."

Group B

Germany (6) v Czech Republic (3), (18.00, Stara Zagora)
• Christian Wück wants an improved display from the one his Germany players gave after the break in their 1-0 triumph over point-less Slovenia to realise his objective of winning the section. A draw will suffice for the 2009 winners. "We missed several chances in that game and in the second half we did not play well," Wück explained.

• "We're strong as well." That was Czech Republic coach Václav Černý's confident response when asked about his side's prospects against a Germany team who have won their opening two fixtures. The Czechs need to better Belgium's result or register a three-goal victory after their 3-0 loss to the Red Devils on Saturday, when goalkeeper Martin Jedlička was sent off and Ondřej Lingr had a penalty saved at 1-0, left the nations level on three points. "We need to put the defeat behind us and concentrate on this match," said Černý.

Suspended: Martin Jedlička (Czech Republic)

Dejected Slovenia striker Jan Mlakar
Dejected Slovenia striker Jan Mlakar©Sportsfile

Slovenia (0) v Belgium (3), (18.00, Burgas)
• Slovenia are not out of the equation after two reverses, although Igor Benedejčič's youngsters must record a three-goal win and hope Germany also prevail to prolong their campaign. They might have drawn with Germany had Jan Mlakar, the eight-goal top scorer in qualification, not spurned an opportunity from close range. "Of course, it could have been different if he had scored, but he has scored so many goals for us and been superb every time," said Benedejčič.

• Victory would rubber-stamp Belgium's place in the knockout stage, while a draw will be enough if the Czechs fail to topple Germany. Bob Browaeys' squad spent Sunday visiting the ancient Black Sea coastal town of Nesebar. Two-goal Tottenham Hotspur FC winger Ismail Azzaoui caught the eye last time out, but Browaeys was keen to stress that the success in Sozopol was "not just about him – all of my team performed well", adding: "It was a good performance and not about the work of one player."

Suspended: Wout Faes (Belgium)

Wednesday

Group C
France* v Greece (16.00, Sozopol)
Russia v Scotland** (16.00, Sliven)

Group D
England v Republic of Ireland (18.00, Stara Zagora)
Netherlands v Italy (18.00, Burgas)

*Already qualified
**Eliminated

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