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Promise of dramatic finish to qualifying round

There are seven qualifiers in August which could set up a tense finale when the race to reach the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs concludes in September.

Slovenia can go top of Group 2 with victory against Ukraine tonight
Slovenia can go top of Group 2 with victory against Ukraine tonight ©Primož Lovrič

The race to reach the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Israel enters a decisive stage, with an exciting finish to the qualifying round in sight as eight groups remain in the balance. Indeed, only Germany in Group 1 and France in Group 9 are assured of their play-off places and August could throw up a few surprises.

Germany booked their play-off spot by scoring 32 goals in eight successive victories and their progress rarely looked in doubt. Second in Group 1, Bosnia and Herzegovina are eyeing one of the four best runners-up slots after three straight wins, although Belarus, six points behind Vlado Jagodić's side with a game in hand, could set up a thrilling climax by beating Cyprus in the pool's only fixture on Wednesday.

With a sizeable advantage in Group 2 and impressive records, leaders Sweden and second-placed Slovenia both appear destined for the play-offs later this year. The duo will jostle for the honour of pole position in the section, with Slovenia aiming to strike the first blow and jump a point clear by overcoming third-placed Ukraine on Wednesday.

Jan Chramosta's competition-leading nine goals have left the Czech Republic needing a solitary point to qualify ahead of the chasing pack in Group 3, where two points separate second from fourth. The Czechs are not in action this week, yet Armenia and Wales go head to head as they attempt to garner enough points from their final two matches to claim a best runners-up berth.

A remarkable 6-5 success against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia kept Denmark within three points of pace-setting Serbia in Group 4 – and the Danes intend to profit from their game in hand on Wednesday as they take on winless Faroe Islands. Should they prevail, another tense finale will be added to the list for September, when the top two meet in Aalborg.


August fixtures listed below:

14 August

Group 7
Republic of Ireland 0-1 Turkey

15 August

Group 1
Belarus v Cyprus

Group 2
Finland v Lithuania
Ukraine v Slovenia

Group 3
Wales v Armenia

Group 4
Faroe Islands v Denmark

Group 5
Georgia v Croatia