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What To Expect From The Final Round Of Euro 2012 Qualifiers

Saturday 8th October 2011
I have been following the qualifiers very closely so far and we are now onto the last set of games. There are still plenty of places up for grabs at the tournament in Poland and Ukraine so it is set to be a very exciting finish. Here is how I think it will pan out.

Group A

Germany wrapped this group up a while ago meaning that all that is left to decide for them is whether they will qualify with a perfect record. Austria, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are guaranteed fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, with one game left to play. The only place still to play for is the playoff spot, which could go to either Belgium or Turkey.

With nothing to play for, I'm going for an Austria win in Kazakhstan to leave the former on a respectable points total. Azerbaijan were a bit dissapointing against Austria to follow on from two decent results so I think Turkey will see them off comfortably despite losing the reverse fixture. Germany will qualify with a perfect record by beating Belgium so that should leave Turkey to take the playoff spot in this group.

Group B

Once again the bottom half of this group is already decided with Slovakia in fourth, Macedonia in fifth and Andorra bottom. Slovakia should beat Macedonia in the meaningless match. Russia have got themselves a playoff spot at the very least and with their remaining tie being at home to Andorra, I would bet every penny to my name (if the odds were worth taking, which they aren't at 1/100) that Russia finish top.

That means it is a head-to-head battle for the playoff spot between Ireland and Armenia. Last month, I fancied Ireland to bottle this game and my opinion hasn't changed. Ireland seemed to switch off against Andorra after they scored their second goal, almost like they were saving themselves for the game on Tuesday. Armenia did the opposite, they kept going till the final whistle. While watching them against Macedonia, I couldn't help but be impressed. They completely took apart a team who had a higher ranking when this campaign started and for that reason I'm going for an upset, Armenia to get the win and take the playoff spot. Sorry Ireland, it would appear your luck has run out.

Group C

Faroe Islands and Estonia have already completed their fixtures in this group with the Faroes definitely finishing last and Estonia currently occupying second. Italy have qualified in very unspectacular style, boring their way to a draw in Serbia yesterday sums them up, but will still beat Northern Ireland to make sure that the latter will only have the Faroes below them come the final whistle.

The only other game on Tuesday in this group is the only game of significance, Serbia at Slovenia. Serbia are one point behind Estonia and could secure the playoff spot for themselves with a win here. A defeat would see Estonia hold onto it, a draw would also be insufficient due to Estonia's better head-to-head record. My heart wants Estonia to get through to the next stage as they have played above themselves (apart from losing to the Faroe Islands) for a lot of games. However, my head knows that Serbia are good enough to beat Slovenia who have underperformed in this group. Even though they drew in Serbia, I'm going for an away win, although I do hope Estonia make the playoffs.

Group D

Luxembourg, who have finished all their games, and Albania have already wrapped up the bottom two places. Romania need to beat second bottom Albania if they want to finish third, ahead of Belarus, who have also played all ten games. Despite being away from home, Romania should win and take third.

A mouth-watering game, France versus Bosnia, will see the winners book their place at Euro 2012 and the losers having to face the lottery of the playoffs. There isn't a lot between these two sides and I reckon Bosnia have got what it takes to win in France. They have got the attacking power to break down what is sure to be a very defensive French side as a draw would be enough to see them through.

Group E

Very little to say on this group, every position has already been sorted. Holland have already qualified and are almost certain to win in Sweden to take a perfect record with them. I was going to say that Sweden won't mind losing having got themselves into the playoffs but a win for them, if other results go their way, could see them getting the solitary automatic second place slot. They will be out for a win but I can't see Holland losing.

In the other two games, I can see Finland drawing in Hungary and San Marino to get one final spanking before the group is up, this time from Moldova.

Group F

Oh yes, the boring group. In the top of the table clash, Greece showed their extra quality by beating Croatia to take initiative in the group. Greece will beat Georgia to qualify and Croatia will beat Latvia and have to settle with the playoffs. There is still an outside chance that Croatia will get the best runner-up spot but they, like Sweden, are relying on other games.

Israel are certain to beat Malta in the last game to stop any late chance of Georigia or Latvia taking third place from them. Due to the opposition that Georgia and Latvia face, it is very likely that Israel could still lose and finish third.

Group G

Well, England have qualified but it hardly feels like a time to celebrate. I was close to praising Capello for his team selection, it looked like he had got it spot on but then, in typical England style, we decided that we wanted to do it the hard way. Had Montenegro got their second goal ten minutes early, we would really have been sweating. It was horrible to see Rooney getting sent off like that, as our best player he needs to keep a cool head and set a better example. So that is us down now, finishing the group with a dull pop instead of a bang.

As for the final games, I fancy Montenegro to win in Switzerland and Wales to win in Bulgaria. That would see Wales finish third in the group, a great ending that will have more than made up for the horrific start.

Group H

This should have a bit of a tasty finish to it. Firstly, at the bottom, Iceland have played every game and should finish fourth, unless Cyprus win in Norway. That is a result that definitely won't happen, Cyprus will lose and finish bottom. A Norway win is what will make this group tasty at the top. It would put Norway on 16 points, equal to the current top two, Portugal and Denmark, who face off in Denmark at the same time. Can you feel the intensity?

This is where it can get a bit complicated. Portugal are top of the group on head-to-head due to a win over Denmark at home so a drew would see them get top spot and Denmark second, with Norway's result meaningless. Norway cannot win the group but a win over Cyprus and a Denmark win, with a combined goal difference of ten or more, would see Norway take the playoff spot. It isn't likely but it certainly isn't impossible. What makes this all the more complicated is the automatic second place spot. Denmark currently have the spot and could still lose and get it, as long as Sweden and Crotia lose too. The same applies to Portugal if they lose. I'm going to go with a Denmark win and Portugal to get the best runner-up spot. Unfortunately for Norway I think there could be a swing of about six goals but not ten.

Group I

I am writing this early and so I will assume that Scotland beat Liechtenstein (surely they won't lose) which leaves Scotland in second going into the final round. That will also condemn Liechtenstein to last place. So will Scotland get that all important second place? Doubtful.

Spain have already topped the group and will be hoping to keep their perfect record intact. I know that Scotland gave them a run for their money at home but can anyone really see them doing it away? That leaves Lithuania against Czech Republic. Scotland kick off an hour before the Czechs do so they could be relying on Lithuania to do them a favour. It would be really crushing for Scotland to lose and then for the Czechs to draw, leaving Czech Republic to take the playoff spot on head-to-head. Either way I just don't see Lithuania winning, even though they did in the reverse fixture. It looks like we will have only one representative for the Home Nations at Euro 2012.

I have really enjoyed these international games so far and I can't wait to see what Tuesday has in store for us. I will be back on Wednesday to roundup the last games.

Oliver Friend
23 year old Psychology graduate from The University of Hull. Massive England fan and supporter of Birmingham City at club level. Currently spending a lot of time going to watch North Ferriby United in the Conference North. Also try to keep up with the major European leagues. Follow on Twitter: @ole1208

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