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Spain, Germany hope to near play-offs

Holders Spain and their forerunners as champions Germany and the Netherlands could all have a foot planted firmly in the play-offs after November's busy qualifying agenda.

Horst Hrubesch's Germany are yet to drop a point
Horst Hrubesch's Germany are yet to drop a point ©Getty Images

Holders Spain and their immediate predecessors as UEFA European Under-21 Championship winners Germany and the Netherlands could each have at least one foot planted in the play-offs after November's busy schedule of qualifiers.

All but three of the 52 teams involved in the ten qualifying groups have fixtures between Thursday and next Tuesday. The group winners and four runners-up with the best record against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their sections will advance to the play-offs to decide the seven finalists alongside hosts the Czech Republic in summer 2015.

Spain, aiming to emulate Italy's 1990s feat of three straight titles, are one of six teams yet to drop a point in qualifying. On Thursday they go to Bosnia and Herzegovina before a Monday trip to Albania, and two successes could leave them in sight of overall Group 4 supremacy, especially if Austria drop points at home to Hungary.

Germany, also on four victories in Group 6, visit Montenegro and Romania on Friday and Tuesday respectively. If they win twice, and Montenegro lose points in the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday, Germany will be into the play-offs in 12 months' time.

The Netherlands will chase a fourth Group 3 success in Slovakia on Thursday, looking to open up a significant lead, while Croatia – with four Group 5 victories and 13 unanswered goals – are at home to Switzerland and Latvia with the possibility of a virtually unassailable 12-point advantage come Tuesday. Also seeking to maintain perfect records are France at home to Armenia in Group 10 on Thursday and Group 8 leaders Portugal in Israel on Monday.

In one of two six-team sections, Group 1 pacesetters England are currently level on points with Wales but play their two games in hand this week, at home to Finland and San Marino. Denmark, top of Group 2, travel to Bulgaria and Andorra bidding to at least maintain their one-point cushion over Russia, visitors to Slovenia before a home match with Estonia.

In Group 9, Belgium have played two games more than Italy and Serbia, both six points adrift. Serbia's fate is in their hands as they welcome both Belgium and Italy. Group 7 frontrunners Turkey sit out this month's action as Greece host Sweden and journey to Poland, with all three countries still hopeful of overhauling the leaders.