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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Will Wales qualify?
Mark Hughes
Wales manager Mark Hughes may have to get out his calculator
As the qualifying campaign nears its end, are you struggling to work out what Wales must do to get through to Euro 2004?

Here is BBC News Online's invaluable guide to all the brain-numbing permutations of the final four matches as Wales, Finland, Italy and Serbia fight to reach the championships in Portugal next summer.

We suggest you print out and keep this guide if you are going to the game or are watching or listening to it on BBC Wales. Or, if it all gets a bit too confusing, just try to enjoy the game...

Current standings:

GROUP NINE TABLE
Team P W D L GF GAPts
Italy 6 4 1 1 12 3 13
Wales 6 4 0 2 10 6 12
Finland 7 3 0 4 8 9 9
Serbia & M 6 2 2 2 7 8 8
Azerbaijan 7 1 1 5 5 16 4

Note: The group winners qualify for the finals automatically. The group runners-up play off against runners-up from another group over two legs, with the winners also making the finals in Portugal. Possible play-off opponents include England, Turkey, the Republic of Ireland, Holland, Germany or Spain.


WHAT WEDNESDAY'S RESULTS WILL MEAN (Be warned - it gets complicated)

If Wales beat Finland

  • A Welsh win would secure a play-off place, and mean Italy and Wales will fight it out for the automatic slot.
  • Welsh fans would then hope Italy slip up in Serbia & M - anything other than an Italian win, and Wales would go to the top of the group. Wales' destiny would then be in their own hands, and beating Serbia & M on 11 October would mean they would definitely win the group.
  • But if both Wales and Italy win, Italy will still lead the group, and Wales will hope Azerbaijan can cause a major shock when they travel to Italy on 11 October. If, as expected, Italy beat Azerbaijan, Wales' game with Serbia & M is irrelevant.

If Wales and Finland draw

  • A draw means Finland's challenge is over, and Wales' only threat to missing the play-offs is Serbia & M.
  • Italy's game in Serbia & M becomes very important - if Italy win, Wales are guaranteed a play-off place because Serbia & M cannot catch up. Italy will win the group - even if Wales and Italy finish on the same amount of points, Italy will go through because of the head-to-head results between the two countries.
  • If Italy and Serbia & M draw, Wales are also guaranteed a play-off place. Wales can still finish top of the group, but rely on beating Serbia & M in Cardiff on 11 October and Azerbaijan getting at least a draw against Italy.
  • If Serbia & M beat Italy, Serbia & M are right back in the race for qualification. Serbia & M will then travel to Cardiff in October knowing victory would give them at least runners-up spot, knocking out Wales.They could even finish above Italy and win the group in the unlikely event that Azerbaijan beat the Italians. However, a draw between Serbia & M and Wales would mean Wales edge through to the play-off, and possibly even top the group (if Azerbaijan beat Italy).

If Wales lose to Finland by one goal

  • If Finland win by one goal, their challenge is over (because head-to-head results will come into play and Wales beat Finland 2-0 last September). But Wales are then looking nervously over their shoulder at Serbia & M.
  • If Serbia & M beat Italy, Serbia & M can still finish first in the group, as long as they beat Wales and Azerbaijan beat or draw with Italy in October.
  • If Serbia & M draw in Italy, they can steal second place by beating Wales in Cardiff in October. But if Wales and Serbia & M draw, Wales would be runners-up.
  • If Serbia & M get beaten in Italy in that match, Italy win the group, and Wales will finish second.

If Wales lose to Finland by two goals

  • Finland need to beat Wales by at least two clear goals to be in with a chance of stealing a play-off place.
  • If Italy beat Serbia & M, they will top the group, and Serbia & M are out. Wales would finish second, unless Serbia & M beat Wales by two clear goals in October, so that goal difference takes Finland above Wales.
  • If Italy draw with Serbia & M, Serbia & M will not be able to qualify, but again a two-goal win over Wales in October would send Finland through. Anything less, and Wales reach the play-offs. Wales could actually win the group by beating Serbia & M if Italy lose to Azerbaijan.
  • If Serbia & M beat Italy, Finland are out - Italy, Wales and Serbia & M would all still be able to finish first or second depending on the October games.

If Wales lose to Finland by three clear goals

  • If Finland beat Wales by at least three clear goals, they rise above Wales in the table due to head-to-head results.
  • If Italy win in Serbia & M, they win the group, and Wales need at least a point from the game with Serbia & M to beat Finland to the play-off spot.
  • If Italy and Serbia & M draw, Wales can finish top by beating Serbia & M (and if Azerbaijan beat Italy in October). A draw with Serbia & M in Cardiff would secure a play-off for Wales but, if Serbia & M beat Wales in Cardiff, Finland go through.
  • If Serbia & M beat Italy, Wales can finish top by beating Serbia & M in October (again if Azerbaijan beat Italy), but a draw in that Cardiff game would also secure a play-off spot. If Wales are beaten by Serbia & M, they will miss out.

We hope that has cleared it all up for you!


SEE ALSO:
Euro 2004 qualifying laid bare
09 Sep 03  |  Internationals


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