UEFA Euro 2012 Qualifying: Ten Spots Up For Grabs, And Group B Wants Four Of Those

You know what's fun to do in the morning when the coffee hasn't quite set in? Try to determine just who is able to qualify for Euro 2012. Spain (the trophy holders), the Netherlands, Germany and Italy have all qualified, and with Poland and the Ukraine taking two spots as hosts, there are ten places up for grabs. Six will be filled automatically, and eight clubs will go into the playoff places. Have I mentioned my head hurts? And let's not even talk about attempting to read UEFA's official rules for this tournament.

So let's puzzle our way through this together, shall we? Each country has either one or two matches left to play, which will occur on Friday, October 7 (except Liechtenstein-Scotland -- does anyone know why Scotland always plays on Saturday?) and Tuesday, October 11. We'll focus mainly on Friday's matches, to further lessen the chances that our brains will leak out our ears.

Group A

Already qualified: Germany (24 points)

In contention for playoffs: Turkey (14), Belgium (12)

Turkey face a tough match against superstars Germany, while Belgium play Kazakhstan, who have a -15 goal difference. Don't write off Turkey's chances yet, however: they play Azerbaijan to wrap everything up, while Belgium get the pleasure of traveling to meet Germany.

Relevant Matches:

Turkey v Germany: 20:30 CET, 14:30 ET
Belgium v Kazakhstan: 20:45 CET, 14:45 ET

Group B

Already qualified: none

In contention: Russia (17), Republic of Ireland (15), Armenia (14), Slovakia (14)

As a Slovakia supporter, Group B makes me want to crawl under the covers and hide. The repre host Russia, hoping against hope that they'll manage to find three points for the first time in approximately a hundred years (although they did win in Russia). But Ireland play Andorra, who have exactly zero points, and Armenia host Macedonia, so even if Slovakia win, it's most likely that they remain tied for third. I'm not even going to discuss Tuesday's matchesyet.

*PS -- despite UEFA's use of "FRYOM" for Macedonia, don't use it -- according to actual Macedonians, that's pretty uncool. The more you know!

Relevant Matches:

Armenia v Macedonia: 17:00 CET, 11:00 ET
Slovakia v Russia: 20:15 CET, 14:15 ET
Andorra v Ireland: 21:30 CET, 15:30 ET

Group C

Already qualified: Italy (22)

In contention: Serbia (14), Estonia (13), Slovenia (11), Northern Ireland (9)

You read that correctly -- Northern Ireland could, technically, still qualify for Euros, by beating Estonia and Italy. Of course, it would mean that Serbia would have to lose against Italy on Friday, which is quite possible. Fingers crossed that the match will actually proceed, however, as the reverse fixture was cancelled and three points awarded to Italy after Serbia supporters threw flares on the pitch in Genoa. Should Serbia win, they'll take second, as Estonia and Slovenia each have just one match left to play. Both countries will need to win their final games while hoping Italy doesn't go easy on Serbia.

Relevant Matches:

Serbia v Italy: 20:45 CET, 14:45 ET
Northern Ireland v Estonia: 20:45 CET, 14:45 ET

Group D

Already qualified: None

In contention: France (17), Bosnia and Herzegovina (16), Romania (12)

Sorry, Belarus. You may have beaten France but you've already played nine, meaning even a win over Romania can't get you into the playoffs. Romania still have an outside shot, if others fail but they manage to win their two final matches. Really, though, Group D is about who takes the top spot, with France and Bosnia and Herzegovina meeting in the final game.

Relevant Matches:

Romania v Belarus: 20:30 CET, 14:30 ET
France v Albania: 21:00 CET, 15:00 ET

Group E

Already qualified: The Netherlands (24)

In contention: Sweden (18), Hungary (18)

Sweden have two games left to play to Hungary's one, meaning that a win against Finland will secure second place -- Hungary have the inferior goal difference. So nothing too exciting going on in this group. Move along.

Relevant Matches:

Finland v Sweden: 18:15 CET, 12:15 ET

Group F

Already qualified: none

In contention: Croatia (19), Greece (18)

No matter what, Croatia and Greece have the top two spots. And the two teams play each other, yay!

Relevant Matches:

Greece v Croatia: 20:45 CET, 14:45 ET

Group G

Already qualified: none

In contention: England (17), Montenegro (11), Switzerland (8)

A whopping draw against Montenegro qualifies England for Euro 2012, although if Montenegro win their final two matches, they'll be the ones taking first. Switzerland are still in it, however, and it will likely come down to the final match between those two as the decider for second place.

Relevant Matches:

Wales v Switzerland: 20:45 CET, 14:45 ET
Montenegro v England: 21:00 CET, 15:00 ET

Group H

Already qualified: none

In contention: Portugal (13), Denmark (13), Norway (13)

At first blush, it appears as though this group is dead even, until you realize that Norway have played an extra match. It's more or less down to Portugal and Denmark, who will meet on the final day. And that's likely to matter, considering the competition the top two are facing on Friday.

Relevant Matches:

Cyprus v Denmark: 20:30 CET, 14:30 ET
Portugal v Iceland: 22:00 CET, 16:00 ET

Group I

Already qualified:Spain

In contention: Czech Republic (10), Scotland (8)

Both the Czech Republic and Scotland have to face Spain before the end of qualification, but it's clearly a more difficult battle for Scotland, who has to hope Czech Republic are dropping points somewhere along the way. A win for Scotland and a loss for the Czechs could make the final day mighty interesting, however.

Relevant Matches:

Czech Republic v Spain: 20:45 CET, 14:45 ET
Liechtenstein v Scotland: 19:30 CET, 13: 30 ET -- note, this match is on Saturday, October 8

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