- For the first time there will be 12 teams in the final tournament
- Hosts Poland will be joined by 11 qualifiers in the finals in June 2017
- The nine group winners qualify automatically
- The four runners-up with the best records against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their group will go into the play-offs for the remaining two berths
- FULL STANDINGS
- FULL FIXTURES
- Current top scorer: Patrick Schick (Czech Republic) 10 – all the statistics
The penultimate set of UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifiers run from Thursday until next Tuesday and by that time hosts Poland might well know the first of their potential opponents in June.
We explain who could qualify on Tuesday and how. The last group fixtures are in October and the play-offs the following month.
Possible qualifiers this week: Czech Republic, Italy, Iceland, Portugal, Denmark.
The Czech Republic have a five-point lead over Belgium, who have a game in hand. The Czech Republic’s win in Montenegro on Thursday put them out of reach of their hosts, and a second victory in Belgium on Tuesday would secure qualification for Vítězslav Lavička’s side.
Italy are five points ahead of Slovenia with both teams having two games left, while Serbia are one point further back with a match in hand. Italy need only a point at home to Andorra to ensure Slovenia cannot win the section and they will qualify if they better Serbia’s result against the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday.
The section was turned upside down on Friday when France dropped from first to third with a last-gasp defeat against Ukraine. Iceland took over at the top, moving a point ahead of France and with a game in hand, after beating Northern Ireland while FYR Macedonia are now second, level on points with Iceland but having also played a game more. Iceland could qualify on Tuesday if they beat France in Caen and FYR Macedonia lose at home to Northern Ireland.
Portugal remain seven points clear of Israel with three games remaining after their goalless draw on Friday evening and a victory on Tuesday against Greece would seal their qualification. Israel, Albania, Hungary and Greece could all still finish second.
Unbeaten Denmark have a three-point lead and game in hand over Romania after both won 4-0 on Friday. Denmark will qualify by beating Romania on Tuesday, though a draw will also suffice if Bulgaria fail to win in Armenia.
After Thursday’s games, Croatia remain two points ahead of holders Sweden and are three clear of Spain, the teams in second and third having a game in hand. As the game between Croatia and Sweden was drawn, this group cannot be settled before October.
Germany have seven perfect wins but are only three points clear of Austria, who won 1-0 in Finland on Friday, and cannot qualify this month. Germany head to Finland on Tuesday, two hours after Austria travel to Russia.
In one of the two five-team groups, Slovakia‘s position strengthened on Friday when second and third-placed Netherlands and Belarus drew 2-2 in Minsk. However, that result means Slovakia cannot qualify even if they win in Cyprus on Monday. Victory would, though, ensure Belarus cannot top the group and Turkey would have to beat Belarus on Tuesday to stay in the hunt for top spot.
Leaders England are level on points with Switzerland, who have played a game more, and one in front of Norway after the chasers both won on Friday. Those victories ensured no nation can qualify on Tuesday, when England host Norway and Switzerland head to Bosnia and Herzegovina.