Spain and Italy set to book Euro 2012 berths

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is unlikely to have to worry about his team's defensive problems as they try to clinch their Euro 2012 place at home to Liechtenstein on Tuesday.

Italy can also book their slot in Poland and Ukraine next year with a home win over Slovenia in the latest round of matches in the marathon and largely predictable qualifying contest.

Germany made sure of their place last Friday while none of the other top teams appear to be in any danger of missing out.

Although France, England and the Netherlands cannot qualify on Tuesday, all three lead their respective groups and should boost their chances with wins

Netherlands, who smashed 11 goals past hapless San Marino on Friday in another of the one-sided matches which have become an unhappy feature of the competition, visit Finland. France travel to Romania and England host Wales.

The winners of the nine groups qualify for the finals along with the best of the runners-up. The remaining eight group runners-up play off in two-leg ties for four more places.

Spain, with five straight wins in Group I, were involved in a game of all-out attack as they came from behind to beat Chile 3-2 in an enthralling friendly on Friday, but can expect the complete opposite on Tuesday.

Del Bosque criticised his team's defence, whose problems are unlikely to surface against a Liechtenstein side who, despite not having a professional league in their country, have become masters at the art of spoiling.

The team from the tiny principality have picked up four points in Group I, conceded only six goals in their last five group games and have given themselves a reputation as one of Europe's most frustrating teams to break down.

SLEEPLESS PRANDELLI

Italy have dropped only two points in seven games in Group C, although Friday's 1-0 win over Faroe Islands was far from impressive.

"I barely slept after the game," said frustrated coach Cesare Prandelli. "There is much work to be done, despite our great start.

"Perhaps it's my fault as we tried out things we had been experimenting with in training too quickly. We broke into their box six times but kept on trying to pass the ball into the net without pulling the trigger."

In Group E, the Dutch go to Finland with a maximum 21 points in the bag, six clear of Sweden and Hungary.

Sweden's chances of catching the Dutch were wrecked by defeat in Hungary on Friday, although they look virtually certain to prolong the race by taking three points from a San Marino side who have shipped 44 goals in eight games without scoring.

France, after a slow start, are three points clear of Bosnia in Group D and five points ahead of opponents Romania.

England have also pulled three points clear at the top of Group G and, if they beat Wales as expected on Tuesday, will need only a draw in Montenegro next month to qualify.

Second-placed Montenegro's defeat in Wales on Friday has given renewed hope to Switzerland of taking the runners-up spot.

The Swiss are at home to a troubled Bulgarian side where coach Lothar Matthaus has dropped Stanislav Manolev, Spas Delev and Alexander Tunchev following their 3-0 defeat to England.

Matthaus said Delev needed to be "taught a lesson" after having a heated discussion with the coach while Manolev responded by quitting the national side.

Russia host Ireland in Group B, having moved two points clear of their opponents and Slovakia at the top of the group on Friday.

Group F leaders Greece visit Latvia while Croatia, one point behind, host Israel, whose chances nose-dived in Friday's 1-0 home defeat against the Greeks.

Denmark must beat Norway to stay in contention in Group H where they have dropped three points behind their opponents and Portugal, who are not in action.


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