The groups ending on Tuesday, we take a look at how qualifying is shaping up for the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Italy and San Marino.
QUALIFIED: Italy (hosts), Spain, France
Next ext summer’s tournament will be the second 12-team edition. The nine qualifying group winners automatically join co-hosts Italy at the finals, with the four best runners-up (i.e. the teams with the best records against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their group) advancing to the play-offs, the two ties drawn on 19 October and held over two legs from 12–20 November. The winners of the two ties complete the finals line-up, with the draw at 18:00CET on 23 November in Bologna.
Greece are three points clear with two games to play, meaning their meeting with second-placed Croatia in Pula on Friday is likely to decide who takes top spot.
Thursday: Belarus v Czech Republic
Friday: Croatia v Greece
Monday: San Marino v Croatia, Czech Republic v Moldova, Greece v Belarus
Spain qualified with three games to spare but subsequently lost to Northern Ireland, who are one of three teams – along with Slovakia and Northern Ireland – who can still finish second.
Thursday: Iceland v Northern Ireland, Albania v Spain
Friday: Slovakia v Estonia
Tuesday: Northern Ireland v Slovakia, Iceland v Spain, Estonia v Albania
It’s a straight tussle between Denmark and Poland for top spot. The Danes are one point ahead but their nearest challengers are still to travel to Aalborg.
Friday: Finland v Georgia, Denmark v Poland, Faroe Islands v Lithuania
Tuesday: Finland v Lithuania, Poland v Georgia, Denmark v Faroe Islands
Six points clear of both Scotland and Ukraine, group leaders England are on the brink. Netherlands are also still in the runners-up mix.
Thursday: England v Andorra
Friday: Latvia v Netherlands, Ukraine v Scotland
Tuesday: Scotland v England, Netherlands v Ukraine, Andorra v Latvia
Holders Germany are closing in on ensuring they are present to defend their title. They are five points clear of Norway and the Republic of Ireland, but have both teams still to play.
Friday: Germany v Norway
Tuesday: Israel v Kosovo, Norway v Azerbaijan, Germany v Republic of Ireland
Advantage Belgium, but Kalmar on Tuesday promises to be worth a watch. The group leaders travel there knowing a draw would suffice thanks to their three-point cushion; lose, though, and 2015 winners Sweden finish top on head-to-head; the teams drew 1-1 in Louvain last year.
Friday: Malta v Hungary
Tuesday: Hungary v Turkey, Malta v Cyprus, Sweden v Belgium
Serbia are six points ahead of Austria having won all eight games, meaning a draw in either of their last two fixtures – or dropped points for their pursuers – would be enough. The top two meet in Novi Sad on 12 October, Serbia having prevailed 3-1 in last year’s reverse fixture. Russia are two points behind Austria.
Friday: Russia v FYR Macedonia, Serbia v Austria
Tuesday: Austria v Russia, Serbia v Armenia, FYR Macedonia v Gibraltar
Perhaps the tightest group of all; Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina are locked together on 18 points, though the latter have only one fixture left – that comes against Portugal, a further two points adrift. Romania are the only one of the three with their fate in their own hands.
Thursday: Liechtenstein v Portugal
Friday: Romania v Wales
Tuesday: Wales v Switzerland, Portugal v Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania v Liechtenstein
France have qualified with plenty to spare, while Slovenia and Bulgaria are the only teams who can still finish second.
Friday: Slovenia v Bulgaria, Montenegro v Luxembourg
Tuesday: Montenegro v Kazakhstan, France v Slovenia, Luxembourg v Bulgaria