Germany and Spain prepare for crucial EURO qualifiers

Germany's Marco Reus celebrates after scoring against Australia. (AAP) Source: DPA

With several groups wide open and the likes of holder Spain and world champion Germany far from guaranteed an automatic qualification place, the next round of fixtures in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying could prove vital.

Here we take a look at the encounters in the nine EURO 2016 qualifying groups.

Group A

Group A has already thrown up its share of surprises with Netherlands having suffered defeat to the Czech Republic and Iceland. The Dutch, who last failed to qualify for the tournament the when France held the EURO in 1984, face a crucial encounter against Turkey in Amsterdam. Czech Republic protects a 100 per cent win record at home to Latvia, while Iceland - which welcomes its record goalscorer Eidur Gudjohnsen back from international retirement - heads to Kazakhstan.

Group B

Belgium faces a potentially crucial double-header having drawn two of its first three matches. First up is a clash with Cyprus - which sits in the play-off spot - on Sunday (AEDT), before it travels to Israel for a rearranged qualifier on Wednesday (AEDT). Group leader Israel is also in action twice and hosts unbeaten Wales, which is seeking to play a first major tournament since the 1958 FIFA World Cup, on Sunday (AEDT). Bosnia-Herzegovina aims to kickstart its campaign in Andorra.

Group C

A group expected to be dominated by Spain remains wide open thanks to the defending champion's defeat to Slovakia in October. Vicente del Bosque's side hosts Ukraine with both teams on nine points, while Slovakia will hope to make it five wins from five against Luxembourg. Elsewhere, Macedonia hosts Belarus.

Group D

It remains all to play for in Group D, where world champion Germany is among three teams on seven points chasing leader Poland. Joachim Low's men face a difficult trip to Georgia, while Republic of Ireland looks to derail unbeaten Poland in Dublin. On paper Gordon Strachan's Scotland has the easiest task against Gibraltar - for whom David Wilson will take temporary charge against his native country.

Group E

Wayne Rooney sits three goals shy of tying Bobby Charlton's goalscoring record for England and he will look to take a step closer when the runaway leader hosts Lithuania at Wembley. Slovenia and Switzerland will expect points in home encounters against San Marino and Estonia respectively.

Group F

Northern Ireland has never played in the EURO, but a victory at home to Finland would go a long way to changing that fact. Group leader Romania hosts a Faroe Islands outfit buoyed by a shock victory over Greece last time out. Winless Greece is in desperate need of three points in Hungary.

Group G

With three wins and a draw, Austria has proved the team to beat in Group G and a trip to Liechtenstein offers a great chance to add more points to the board. Just one point separates second-placed Sweden - which faces Moldova  - and Russia - which heads to Montenegro - one spot below it. 

Group H

With just one point separating the top three, Group H heads into a potentially vital weekend. Croatia heads the way on goal difference and hosts third-placed Norway in Zagreb. Italy will hope to take advantage of any dropped points in that match when it faces Bulgaria, while former Croatia star Robert Prosinecki takes charge of Azerbaijan for the first time against Malta.

Group I

With only five teams in the group, leader Denmark do not have a qualifying fixture. Portugal can subsequently go top by beating Serbia, while Albania attempts to move level on points with Denmark as it welcomes Armenia.

Source Omnisport