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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Euro 2004: Qualification climax
Spain's Raul and Helguera
Spain's Helguera contemplates playing two more matches
A tense weekend lies in store for those teams still involved in the battle to qualify for Euro 2004.

Four sides have already qualified for next year's finals in Portugal - France, Czech Republic, Sweden and Bulgaria - but there are still a number of big European sides whose hopes still hang in the balance.

Spain are one of those teams. Coach Inaki Saez's side currently hold second spot in Group Six and need to win in Armenia and hope that Northern Ireland can get at least one point in Greece.

With the Greeks in pole position and playing a Northern Ireland side who will finish at the foot of the table, it is likely the Spanish will have to settle for second.

Saez, who has a full-strength squad to pick from, will put his faith in the strike partnership of Raul and 19-year-old Fernando Torres.

"We have to trust in our young players. They are the future," said the coach.

One of the ties of the round is the Group Five match between 1996 European champions Germany and Iceland.

Should Iceland land a shock win in Germany then it would consign Rudi Voeller's side to the play-offs.

But if Iceland lose then not only would the Germans qualify automatically but Scotland could also take the play-off spot if they beat Lithuania at home.

Voeller is waiting on the fitness of midfielder Michael Ballack and striker Oliver Neuville, although both are expected to play.

However, the unavailability of influential players such as Sebastian Deisler, Torsten Frings, Dietmar Hamann, Christoph Metzelder and Jens Nowotny may prove significant.

There is a similar theme to the outcome of Group Seven with Turkey and England competing against each other for the one automatic qualification berth.

In Group 10, the Republic of Ireland, along with Russia and Switzerland, will all be determined to grab a win which could put them on the plane to Portugal.

In Group Nine a slip up from Italy may let Wales through the door.

Mark Hughes' men need to beat Serbia and Montenegro in Cardiff and hope that Italy slip up at home to bottom side Azerbaijan.

In Group Two, Denmark (14 points) and Bosnia-Herzogovina (12 points), who face each other, can both still win automatic qualification or a play-off spot.

Romania (14 points), who have played all their games, and Norway are both vying for a place in the play-offs.

Norway play Luxembourg at home and are almost certain of a win which would take them up to 14 points.

Assuming that this is the case, and Romania and Denmark also finish on 14 points, then the Danes would go through to the play-offs after taking into account earlier head-to-heads between the teams.

If the head-to-head just involves Romania and Norway, then the Norwegians would qualify.

In Group Eight, Croatia and Belgium both have 13 points as they look to win a play-off spot, with Bulgaria already having qualified for the finals.

Croatia face Bulgaria at home while the Belgians entertain Estonia.

Belgium need a better result than Croatia because the Croats have the superior head-to-head record.

In Group Four, Latvia, Poland and Hungary can still make the play-offs, with Sweden having topped the table.

If Latvia lose to Sweden and finish on 13 points, the winners of the Hungary-Poland match would finish second.

Should Hungary win, they would finish on 14 points; if Poland win, they would edge out Latvia as they have the better head-to-head record.

If Poland and Hungary draw, Latvia will finish second even if they lose to the Swedes.

If Hungary win and Latvia draw qualification would come down to overall goal difference in the group for those teams since their head-to-head record is identical.

In Group Three, Holland will have to settle for a play-off place, with the Czech Republic already having qualified.

There is a danger of a repeat of the Dutch fiasco which saw the side fail to make the finals of World Cup 2002.

With Israel having slipped up against Malta last month, Slovenia were assured of a play-off place in Group One.

France, who have won all seven games to date, qualified for the final earlier in the year.



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