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Play-off places up for grabs

With holders Germany eliminated, the qualifying group stage reaches its climax over the next week with a number of famous names also in danger of missing out on the play-offs.

The Czech Republic are one of two sides with a perfect record
The Czech Republic are one of two sides with a perfect record ©UEFA.com

It has been an unpredictable qualifying campaign so far with holders Germany eliminated and only the Netherlands through as group winners, and as the play-offs for the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship approach a number of famous names are also in danger of missing out.

The ten group winners and four best-runners up advance to the play-offs for the chance to join hosts Denmark in next summer's finals. Five-time champions Italy are up against it in Group 3, where Wales lead the way as Brian Flynn's side aim to reach the play-offs for the second edition in a row. Wales lead the section by a point from Hungary, who they meet on Saturday, before taking on Italy, who are three points back in third, in Pescara in a match that could decide the section.

England, finalists in 2009, also have much to do as they look to close a five-point gap on leaders Greece in Group 9. England and third-placed Portugal each have a game in hand, but should they draw when they meet in Barcelos Friday, Greece will qualify regardless of their result in their final match against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia the following day.

Only 2006 and 2007 champions the Netherlands are sure of their place in the play-offs after winning their first seven Group 4 games, though any hopes they had of finishing the campaign with a 100% record were ended by Spain. Luis Milla's team − who visit Poland in their last match next week − won 2-1 in Alcoy on Thursday, keeping them in contention for a play-off berth. The Czech Republic are the only team yet to drop a point and will confirm a play-off spot by winning at home to Germany on Friday.

Elsewhere there is plenty to play for with Russia and Romania going head-to-head over two games to decide Group 1, Switzerland out to claim top spot in Group 2 at home to the Republic of Ireland and Sweden needing a point against Israel to qualify from Group 6.

Croatia will win Group 7 with victory away to Serbia on Saturday, while Ukraine narrowly hold pole position from Belgium in Group 8 with key games against France and Slovenia to come. Only one point seperates the top three in Group 10 with Austria holding sway over Scotland and Belarus. The latter two have a game in hand and meet on Friday before Scotland host Austria in their final game four days later.

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