Second stage takes shape

The second qualifying round lineup has begun to take shape after 17 teams ensured progress from the first stage with a match to spare this weekend including several former champions.

Russia defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina to go through
Russia defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina to go through ©Fedja Krvavac

Holders through
Two teams from each of the eleven groups plus the two third-placed teams with the best record against the top two in their sections will join top seeds Germany in the next round in spring, and the leading pair have already been confirmed in eight of the groups. Among those is Group 11, which contains holders Italy, who beat Bulgaria 6-1, and Ukraine, who overcame Estonia 4-1. Both teams have six points and will play for first place on Tuesday.

Norway virtually there
In the only group with Sunday fixtures, last season's runners-up Norway made it two wins out of two with a 6-0 defeat of Romania. However, Portugal bounced back from losing to Romania with a 1-0 win against the Faroe Islands to keep qualification in doubt. As things stand, Norway need only avoid a ten-goal defeat by Portugal on Wednesday, and even then will only be out if Romania also beat the Faroe Islands.

England go top
Group 5 contains two of last year's qualifiers, England and Scotland, but only one will be going through. England, held 1-1 by Slovakia on Thursday, overcame hosts Slovenia to go top. But Scotland, beaten by Slovenia on Matchday 1, drew 0-0 with Slovakia and are bottom. Scotland must now beat England on Tuesday to have a hope of a top-two finish. A draw would be enough for England while second-placed Slovenia boast a point advantage over Slovakia ahead of their meeting.

Past winners advance
The other unresolved pool is Group 6, though hosts Azerbaijan will definitely finish top after a 1-0 win against Finland. The Czech Republic, who lost to the home side on Matchday 1, overcame Northern Ireland 2-1 to eliminate their rivals and move ahead of Tuesday's opponents Finland on goals scored. Elsewhere, Sweden, France and Spain, who qualified last year having previously been champions, are among those safely through. Sweden, who, like Germany, lost in the 2007/08 semi-finals, defeated Latvia 4-0 in Group 3 to move on with Wales, 2-0 winners against Croatia. France overcame Georgia 10-0 and have progressed from Group 9 with Belgium, who beat F.Y.R. Macedonia 7-1 to take their goal tally to 25 in two games. Spain defeated Lithuania 12-0 to top Group 4, and the Netherlands also stayed on maximum points with a 7-0 win against Cyprus.

Russia celebrate
Two further past champions made progress. Russia followed up their 19-0 Group 8 win against Moldova with a 4-0 defeat of hosts Bosnia-Herzegovina and move on with Hungary, who beat the leaders' Matchday 1 victims 7-0. Inaugural victors Denmark overcame Serbia 3-0, while Switzerland beat Kazakhstan 5-0 to ensure they and the Danes will advance from Group 10. Meanwhile, Austria and Poland are celebrating in Group 2 after respectively defeating Armenia 3-0 and Turkey 4-1. And in the only pool that concludes on Monday, Group 7, the Republic of Ireland and Iceland will play for first place after Ireland defeated hosts Israel 2-0 on Friday and Iceland saw off Greece 2-1. All other pools, other than Group 1, conclude on Tuesday.

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