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Women's EURO qualifying up to full pace

The six sides yet to begin their bids, including Finland, play on Saturday to launch a week including Russia's trip to Italy and the Netherlands' 2009 semi-final rematch with England.

Italy will hope to repeat their 2-0 defeat of Russia in the 2009 finals
Italy will hope to repeat their 2-0 defeat of Russia in the 2009 finals ©Getty Images

The six sides yet to begin their UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualifying campaigns start their fixtures on Saturday, beginning a week of games that concludes with a rematch of a 2009 semi-final.

Among the teams commencing their campaigns are Group 5 hopefuls Finland, who reached the last eight as hosts in 2009 and semi-finals four years earlier. They open at home to Estonia while Slovakia begin the same group with a trip to Ukraine.

Two teams also start Group 1 – Greece visiting Poland and preliminary round qualifiers the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at home to Italy, but the key game is on Wednesday when the Azzurrini welcome Russia. Northern Ireland kick off their Group 3 bid in Bulgaria, where Belgium – fresh from holding Iceland – welcome Norway on Wednesday.

Croatia's first match is the Group 6 visit of the Netherlands on Saturday but the game of the week involves the Oranje five days later, as they welcome England to Zwolle hoping to reverse their 2009 semi-final defeat. Germany made it five titles in a row by beating England that year and aim to continue their winning start to Group 2 on Saturday in Romania before a midweek friendly visit by finals hosts Sweden.

Latest standings

Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday

The seven group winners and best runners-up will join hosts Sweden in the final tournament, to be joined by three teams from play-offs involving the other second-placed sides.