UEFA Women's EURO 2013 is less than one year away and though hosts Sweden, holders Germany and Italy are in the finals, there is much to be decided in the last qualifiers.
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UEFA Women's EURO 2013 will be kicking off in Sweden next July, with holders Germany, Italy and the hosts already assured of their places. With nine more berths still to be filled ahead of the 9 November draw, UEFA.com looks at the state of play ahead of the decisive group games on 15/16 and 19 September.
All seven group winners and the best runners-up (not counting results against the sixth-placed teams in the larger Groups 1, 2 and 3) progress to the final tournament from 10 to 28 July 2013. The other six runners-up go to the play-offs for the remaining three places, drawn on Friday 21 September and played over two legs on 20/21 and 24/25 October.
Qualified: Italy, Germany, Sweden (hosts)
Clinched at least play-off: France, England, Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Austria
Confirmed in play-offs: Spain
Still in contention: Russia, Poland*, Iceland, Norway, Belgium, Ukraine, Belarus*, Slovakia*, Scotland, Wales*
*Can only make play-offs
Italy, with a perfect record so far, have won the group with two games to spare but second place is up for grabs with Russia two points ahead of Poland. On 15 September Russia visit the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the next day Poland go to Italy probably needing to win. If Poland are still in touch they could still reach the play-offs when they go to Russia on 19 September. Russia, looking for a new coach after Farid Benstiti's departure, could yet finish as best runners-up if they win both remaining games, but they need England to fail to beat Croatia in Group 6 and results to go their way in Groups 4 and 7 to have a chance.
Germany, aiming for a sixth straight European title, are assured of qualification. Spain will definitely finish second and cannot finish as best runners-up so are the one team definitely confirmed in the play-offs, where they missed out in 2009 against the Netherlands.
Three teams can still win this group as leaders Iceland, second-placed Norway and Belgium are at one-point intervals. On 15 September Iceland play Northern Ireland while Belgium aim to keep their hopes alive in Norway. Four days later Norway and Iceland meet in the likely group decider in Sarpsborg (if it goes to head-to-head, Iceland won the home game 3-1) while Belgium, hoping they were not eliminated at the weekend, visit Northern Ireland.
France, currently concentrating on the Olympics along with Sweden and Great Britain, are five points clear of Scotland – who themselves supply two members of the GB squad. Les Bleus return to action against the Republic of Ireland on 15 September knowing victory would seal qualification regardless of their result in Scotland four days later. Scotland, meanwhile, go to Wales on the Saturday needing a draw to ensure at least second place. Wales will be in the play-offs for the first time if they win that game and Scotland then lose to France.
This was another tight group with four of the five teams in contention but Finland now need only a point in Estonia on 15 September or at home to the only side that can still catch them, Ukraine, four days later. Ukraine, Belarus and Slovakia (following their 2-0 win in Estonia on 25 August, though they have played a game more) are all six points adrift. Belarus are at home to Ukraine on 15 September and then Slovakia on the last day. All three remain in contention but a loss in Belarus would eliminate Ukraine, who if they win that game should themselves be guaranteed a top-two finish. Slovakia willl look to win in Belarus and hope Ukraine do not win either of their remaining games to make the play-offs.
The Netherlands, the only team to have completed their fixtures, are top but will only remain there if England, two points behind, fail to beat bottom side Croatia on 19 September. Even if England win that game, the Netherlands will qualify as the best runners-up unless France draw with Ireland and Scotland beat both Wales and Les Bleus, or Austria gain victory against Denmark, who then fail to defeat Portugal. Even then the Netherlands' goal difference could prove good enough for them to avoid the play-offs.
Denmark, who like Italy and France have a 100% record, lead Austria by two points and have a pair of games left to their rivals' one. Therefore even if Denmark fail to get the point they need for automatic qualification in Austria on 15 September they will overtake them with victory at home to Portugal four days later (or even a draw if Austria's victory was by fewer than four goals). For Austria, a first-ever play-off is at least assured, while a victory against Denmark could even be enough for automatic qualification, should England drop points against Croatia and Scotland fail to win both their remaining games.