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Last spots on offer as Under-21 play-offs loom

Seven play-off places will be up for grabs when the qualifying group stage for the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship draws to a fascinating close on Monday.

Group 6 leaders Russia are just two points clear of Portugal
Group 6 leaders Russia are just two points clear of Portugal ©FPF

Seven places remain up for grabs in the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs as the qualifying group stage concludes with a fascinating final round of games on Monday.

The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Spain and Italy all won their groups on Friday to join Germany and France in the play-off round, while England are now certain of a berth as well. They currently lead Group 8 but will advance as one the four runners-up with the best record against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their sections even if they lose out to Norway. Israel, meanwhile, are already guaranteed a spot in the finals as competition hosts.

Group 1
Bosnia and Herzegovina v Germany
Greece v Cyprus

Germany are through to the play-offs as group winners having won all nine of their previous games and will look to sign off with a perfect record in Sarajevo. Hosts Bosnia and Herzegovina are certain of ending the section in second but need at least a point to stand a chance of finishing as one of the four best runners-up.

Group 2
Sweden v Ukraine
Lithuania v Finland

Section leaders Slovenia have finished their campaign but lie just a point clear of Sweden and three ahead of Ukraine, with all three capable of taking top spot. Sweden entertain Ukraine in what should be a tense encounter, with the home side needing victory to leap ahead of Slovenia due to their head-to-head record against the leaders, while a win for Ukraine would take them top thanks to their overall goal-difference advantage. Ukraine are sure to fancy their chances after downing Sweden 6-0 in May.

Group 3
Montenegro v Armenia
Czech Republic v Wales

The Czech Republic guaranteed themselves first place thanks to a draw in Montenegro last time out, a result which also made sure that Armenia's 1-0 success in Wales was enough to earn them second spot. The mission now for Armenia will be to maximise their chances of finishing as one of the four best runners-up when they travel to Podgorica.

Group 4
Denmark v Northern Ireland
Serbia v Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

There is plenty still to play for as the final round of games approaches, with Denmark two points shy of leaders Serbia after having had to settle for a 1-1 draw with their rivals in Aalborg on Friday. A point against FYROM would seal top spot for Serbia thanks to that away goal in Denmark – the Scandinavian side having earlier been held 0-0 in Serbia – whereas a loss would drop them behind their visitors, currently three points back. Whether FYROM then top the group would depend on Denmark's result against Northern Ireland.

Group 5
Spain v Croatia
Switzerland v Estonia

Holders Spain tied up their play-off berth by securing a goalless stalemate in Switzerland on Friday, and the point also wrapped up second place for the home side. Runners-up in 2011, Switzerland will be desperate to bolster their chance of making the play-offs when they welcome the bottom team in the section.

Group 6
Russia v Moldova
Poland v Portugal

Top dogs Russia must overcome fourth-placed Moldova to ensure their passage to the play-offs; currently two points clear of Portugal, Nikolai Pisarev's charges would slip down to second if they can only draw and Portugal prevail in Poland.

Group 7
Hungary v Liechtenstein
Italy v Republic of Ireland

Italy made sure of their berth in the play-offs by dispatching Liechtenstein 7-0 last time out, and second place is similarly clear with Turkey – who have finished their campaign – five points better off than third-placed Ireland. Turkey amassed 15 points in their ten outings and must wait to see if that will be enough to take them through.

Group 8
England v Norway
Belgium v Iceland

Chesterfield will be the location for what looks certain to be a fascinating showdown between the top two teams in Group 8, Norway trailing England by two points and requiring victory to finish as section winners. Stuart Pearce's side need only a draw to hold on to first place, and will be through as one of the four best runners-up even if they lose.

Group 9
Latvia v Romania
Slovakia v Kazakhstan

France have sewn up first place thanks to seven wins from their eight qualifiers, leaving Slovakia and Romania to contest second spot. Slovakia are the current incumbents after beating Les Bleuets 2-1 on Friday, and – with just 12 points so far – they will need another victory against Kazakhstan to stand any chance of going through as one of the four best runners-up. Anything short of a win would open the door for Romania to leapfrog them at the last.

Group 10
Austria v Scotland
Luxembourg v Bulgaria

The Netherlands set the seal on top spot when they swept aside Austria 4-1 on Friday and Cor Pot's troops have now finished their group duties. Scotland cannot be caught in second but will be anxious to triumph in Austria to maximise their chances of grabbing a play-off berth alongside the Jong Oranje.

Season calendar
14 September: Play-off draw (Nyon)
12-16 October: Play-offs
28 November: Final tournament draw (Israel)
5-18 June: Final tournament (Israel)

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