- For the first time there will be 12 teams in the final tournament
- Hosts Poland will be joined by 11 qualifiers in the finals from 16 to 30 June 2017
- The nine group winners qualify automatically
- The four best runners-up go into the play-offs for the remaining two berths
- Play-off draw: 14 October, matches: 7 to 15 November
- FULL STANDINGS
- FINAL MATCHES: WEDNESDAY TO TUESDAY
- Current top scorer: Patrick Schick (Czech Republic) 10 – all the statistics
Qualified: Denmark, Portugal, Poland (hosts)
Can still qualify automatically: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, FYR Macedonia, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey
Can reach play-offs: Bulgaria, Israel, Romania, Slovenia
The Czech Republic lead by two points over Belgium, who have two games left to the leaders’ one. Although Belgium beat the Czechs 2-1 last month, Vítězslav Lavička’s side have the head-to-head advantage. Therefore if the Czechs pick up more points in their last game against Moldova than Belgium do in their penultimate match in Montenegro on Friday, the group is settled. Belgium could clinch the group if they win and the Czechs lose, but if they are still within two points will be able to qualify anyway by beating Latvia next Tuesday.
Italy are six points clear of Serbia at the head of the standings, though they are not yet certain to finish top as the sides drew both of their games 1-1. Serbia’s aim is to win in the Republic of Ireland on Friday and beat Slovenia next Tuesday, when they hope Italy lose in Lithuania to concede the group on goal difference. Slovenia are two points behind Serbia so will look for a result in Lithuania on Friday to stay in the play-off hunt ahead of their visit to Gornji Milanovac.
FYR Macedonia and Iceland, who beat Scotland 2-0 on Wednesday, are level on 18 points, one ahead of France. Iceland better FYR Macedonia on head to head so are guaranteed to qualify should they beat Ukraine on Tuesday. Waiting for a slip-up are FYR Macedonia, who host Scotland on the last night, and France (who have a head-to-head advantage over both their main group rivals) visiting Northern Ireland on Tuesday.
Portugal have won the group and although Albania, Hungary and Greece could still finish second, only the team currently in that position, Israel, can finish as one of the four best runners-up. Israel will look to defeat Greece on Thursday and Albania on Monday to give themselves a play-off chance.
Denmark have qualified, leaving Romania and Bulgaria to compete for second place. Bulgaria are two points behind but have a game in hand, against Denmark on Friday. However, whatever happens then the runners-up will be set next Tuesday when Bulgaria host Romania.
Spain moved level with Croatia on 20 points thanks to Wednesday’s 3-0 success in San Marino, although Sweden, two points back have a game in hand on the leaders. Sweden go to Estonia on Thursday, the reigning champions hoping to go top and have qualification in their hands when they host Croatia next Monday. Spain play Estonia that day well aware that their head-to-head is inferior to Croatia’s.
Germany have the only perfect record (and at worse are assued a play-off) but Austria are still within five points with two games each left. Still, Germany will qualify if they beat Russia on Friday or if they draw in Austria next Tuesday. Austria will aim to beat the Faroe Islands on Friday but if Germany draw with Russia, Werner Gregoritsch’s side would need to better the 4-2 reverse they suffered in Furth last November to pip their neighbours on head-to-head.
Slovakia lead the Netherlands by five points and Turkey by six, all three having two games left in a five-team group. Slovakia’s head-to-head advantage over the Dutch means they will qualify with a point against either Belarus on Friday or in Turkey next Tuesday. The Netherlands host Turkey on Thursday before going to Cyprus.
England, who will be under the caretaker charge of Aidy Boothroyd with Gareth Southgate temporarily taking over the senior team, are two points clear of Switzerland (who only have one game left) and four in front of Norway. England will qualify if they win in Kazakhstan on Thursday. The following night Norway play Switzerland, while next Tuesday with both teams hoping victory would be enough for them to still be able to win the group next Tuesday when England host Bosnia and Herzegovina and Norway go to Kazakhstan.