Groups heading for climax

Although only hosts Finland and holders Germany are so far through the qualifying picture is clearing with some groups destined to go to the final game.

Germany are through while England need two draws to join them
Germany are through while England need two draws to join them ©Getty Images

Group 1
Spain's 3-0 win in Northern Ireland meant they went level on points with leaders England, still ahead on head-to-head record and with a game in hand. The Czech Republic are five points behind but could close that by beating Belarus on 26 June. After that England go to the Czech Republic on 28 September and Spain on 2 October knowing two draws would give them first place. If Spain win by a better scoreline than 1-0 they will definitely qualify, or any victory if England do not pick up maximum points in the Czech Republic, who themselves need a five-goal triumph and even then require Spain and England to draw. In any case England and Spain are effectively assured at least a play-off place and a win against Belarus should do the same for the Czech Republic.

Group 2
A 6-1 win in Romania moved Italy level on points with Sweden, but the 1984 champions, who are yet to concede a goal and have 15 points from five games, have beaten the Azzurre twice and will qualify with a victory in the Republic of Ireland on 25 June – or either of their subsequent games. Ireland are three points behind Italy with a game in hand but have an inferior head-to-head record and must meet Sweden in their last two matches. A win against Hungary on 2 October would assure Italy a play-off place but taking points off Sweden could still be vital for Ireland to be one of the best third-placed teams.

Group 3
Iceland won 4-0 in Serbia to close the gap on France and if they win at home to Slovenia and Greece on 21 and 26 June respectively the top two will be level on 18 points. And as Iceland won their home game against Les Bleues, they would only need to draw in France on 27 September while their opponents would require victory. Slovenia, in third, are six points ahead of Greece with a game in hand so that position is likely to be decided when Slovenia go to Greece on 2 October.

Group 4
Germany won the group with their sixth victory earlier in May against Belgium and followed it up with a 4-0 defeat of Wales to move eleven points clear. Belgium, with one game left, are on ten points like Switzerland, who have two matches remaining as do the Netherlands, two points behind. The Netherlands welcome Switzerland on 30 August and Belgium on 27 September, five days before Switzerland play Germany. Two Dutch wins will secure second place unless Switzerland upset Germany, similarly if Belgium beat the Netherlands they are likely to finish second. Switzerland most probably need to defeat the Netherlands and hope Belgium do not then win though a third-place finish could prove enough for a play-off from this group.

Group 5
Denmark and Ukraine have perfect records following wins against Slovakia and Scotland respectively, though the Scandinavian nation have played six games to their rivals' five. Therefore it looks likely that their meeting in Ukraine on 22 June and Denmark on 1 October will decide the group. Scotland are a point ahead of Slovakia who they meet for third place on 28 September though victory will be vital for both teams to have any chance in the tie-breaker to reach the play-offs.

Group 6
Norway lead Russia by three points with both teams having played five of eight games. Should Norway win in Austria on 21 June and Poland on 25 June they will hope for Russia to drop points against Austria on 27 August or Poland a month later. Even then, though, Norway would only need to avoid a four-goal defeat in Russia on 2 October. Austria's 4-2 win in Poland moved them to within a point of third place with a game in hand and gave them a head-to-head advantage. Four days after Norway visit, Austria go to Israel for a match that could take them into the top three but either they or Poland need to take points off Russia or Norway to boost their play-off hopes.