Euro 2012 Qualifiers: Spain Face The Czech Republic In Weekend Of Mismatches

Many of Europe's top national teams have fairly straightforward games this weekend, including Germany's game against Kazakhstan, France's match against Luxembourg, and Russia's visit to Armenia, but there are two significant clashes between sides that will expect to make the trip to Ukraine and Poland in just over a year's time.

The first major clash of the extended football weekend is Slovenia's clash with Italy on Friday. The two sides that went out in the group stage of last year's World Cup currently occupy the top two places in group C, with the Azzurri three points ahead of their hosts after four games. Fortunately for Slovenia, Italy have drawn their last three games (against Northern Ireland, Romania, and Germany) while Slovenian striker Milivoje Novaković has been in good form at club level for Bundesliga side Cologne, scoring six goals in his last seven games.

Later on Friday the top two sides in Group I, Spain and the Czech Repulic, face off in Granada. They are also separated by three points, with the leading side on a slight dip in form -- Spain have won all of their (mostly easy) games in Euro 2012 Qualifiers, but received a pair of thumpings from the only good sides they've played since winning the World Cup. The Czechs' recent results haven't been too much better, and they will need to tighten up at the back to give themselves a chance in this game.  Young Lazio striker Libor Kozák could make his international debut for the Czech Republic, while Spain will miss Carles Puyol and Cesc Fábregas due to injuries.

Elsewhere, Germany will look to extend their lead at the top of Group A with a second win against Kazakhstan, while Austria can try to close that gap in a playoff-spot battle against Belgium; Greece will try to overtake Croatia in Group F as the former European champions take on Malta, Denmark will face Norway in a Viking derby for top spot in Group H, and the Republic of Ireland will try to return to winning ways in their qualifying campaign against Macedonia.

Schedule:

Friday

Austria v Belgium, Group A, 19:30 (3:30 PM)

Hungary v Netherlands, Group E, 19:30 (3:30 PM)

Serbia v Northern Ireland, Group C, 19:30 (3:30 PM)

Slovenia v Italy, Group C, 19:45 (3:45 PM)

Luxembourg v France, Group D, 20:00 (4:00 PM)

Spain v Czech Republic, Group I, 21:00 (5:00 PM)

Saturday

Armenia v Russia, Group B, 15:00 (11:00 AM)

Wales v England, Group G, 15:00 (11:00 AM)

Bulgaria v Switzerland, Group G, 16:45 (12:45 PM)

Georgia v Croatia, Group F, 17:00 (1:00 PM)

Cyprus v Iceland, Group H, 18:00 (2:00PM)

Israel v Latvia, Group F, 18:05 (2:05 PM)

Bosnia-Hercegovina v Romania, Group D, 18:15 (2:15 PM)

Albania v Belarus, Group D, 19:00 (3:00 PM)

Andorra v Slovakia, Group B, 19:00 (3:00 PM)

Germany v Kazakhstan, Group A, 19:00 (3:00 PM)

Norway v Denmark, Group H, 19:00 (3:00 PM)

Malta v Greece, Group F, 19:30 (3:30 PM)

Rep of Ireland v FYR Macedonia, Group B, 19:45 (3:45 PM)

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