Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is
unlikely to have to worry about his team's defensive problems as
they try to clinch their Euro 2012 place at home to
Liechtenstein on Tuesday.
Italy can also book their slot in Poland and Ukraine next
year with a home win over Slovenia in the latest round of
matches in the marathon and largely predictable qualifying
Germany made sure of their place last Friday while none of
the other top teams appear to be in any danger of missing out.
Although France, England and the Netherlands cannot qualify
on Tuesday, all three lead their respective groups and should
boost their chances with wins
Netherlands, who smashed 11 goals past hapless San Marino on
Friday in another of the one-sided matches which have become an
unhappy feature of the competition, visit Finland. France travel
to Romania and England host Wales.
The winners of the nine groups qualify for the finals along
with the best of the runners-up. The remaining eight group
runners-up play off in two-leg ties for four more places.
Spain, with five straight wins in Group I, were involved in
a game of all-out attack as they came from behind to beat Chile
3-2 in an enthralling friendly on Friday, but can expect the
complete opposite on Tuesday.
Del Bosque criticised his team's defence, whose problems are
unlikely to surface against a Liechtenstein side who, despite
not having a professional league in their country, have become
masters at the art of spoiling.
The team from the tiny principality have picked up four
points in Group I, conceded only six goals in their last five
group games and have given themselves a reputation as one of
Europe's most frustrating teams to break down.
Italy have dropped only two points in seven games in Group
C, although Friday's 1-0 win over Faroe Islands was far from
"I barely slept after the game," said frustrated coach
Cesare Prandelli. "There is much work to be done, despite our
"Perhaps it's my fault as we tried out things we had been
experimenting with in training too quickly. We broke into their
box six times but kept on trying to pass the ball into the net
without pulling the trigger."
In Group E, the Dutch go to Finland with a maximum 21 points
in the bag, six clear of Sweden and Hungary.
Sweden's chances of catching the Dutch were wrecked by
defeat in Hungary on Friday, although they look virtually
certain to prolong the race by taking three points from a San
Marino side who have shipped 44 goals in eight games without
France, after a slow start, are three points clear of Bosnia
in Group D and five points ahead of opponents Romania.
England have also pulled three points clear at the top of
Group G and, if they beat Wales as expected on Tuesday, will
need only a draw in Montenegro next month to qualify.
Second-placed Montenegro's defeat in Wales on Friday has
given renewed hope to Switzerland of taking the runners-up spot.
The Swiss are at home to a troubled Bulgarian side where
coach Lothar Matthaus has dropped Stanislav Manolev, Spas Delev
and Alexander Tunchev following their 3-0 defeat to England.
Matthaus said Delev needed to be "taught a lesson" after
having a heated discussion with the coach while Manolev
responded by quitting the national side.
Russia host Ireland in Group B, having moved two points
clear of their opponents and Slovakia at the top of the group on
Group F leaders Greece visit Latvia while Croatia, one point
behind, host Israel, whose chances nose-dived in Friday's 1-0
home defeat against the Greeks.
Denmark must beat Norway to stay in contention in Group H
where they have dropped three points behind their opponents and
Portugal, who are not in action.
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