Euro 2012 Qualification Review (Group A to I)

Group A

There was never much doubt about which team would end up triumphant in Group A - Germany were third place in last year's World Cup and beaten finalists in the 2008 European Championships. It therefore came as no surprise that they crushed their way to the top with a perfect record and a great +27 goal differential - all this in a group with no real minnows.

The Turkey-Belgium fight, on the other hand, was an fascinating one, and although Turkey ended up edging things in the end had Belgium been a little bit more careful not to, say, draw 4-4 at home to Austria, the young team may well have found themselves with a place in the playoffs. Instead, that goes to Guus Hiddink's side, who are still alive for a place in Euro 2012.

Group B

Russia is into Euro 2012 after defeating Andorra on the final matchday of the campaign, while the Republic of Ireland will enter the playoff draw, thanks to a victory over Armenia. Macedonia had been counted out of the running long ago, while Slovakia were eliminated from contention late in qualifying in disappointing fashion. Surprisingly, Armenia controlled their own destiny as far as gaining a playoff spot until the very end, but they couldn't get a result away to Ireland.

Ireland will be one of the seeded playoff teams, and cannot draw Croatia, Portugal, or the Czech Republic.

Group C

Well that was pretty easy for Italy, wasn't it? Ten matches, two goals scored per match on average, two goals conceded in total, enough for 26 points and a ten-point lead at the top of Group C. Despite the debacle at South Africa last summer, Italy still boast an extremely strong team and will probably give a good showing of themselves in Poland/Ukraine this summer.

Second place brought us a real surprise as Serbia found themselves pipped by tiny Estonia, perhaps in part due to the 3-0 loss they were punished with in Italy after their fans ran riot. That's not to take anything away from Estonia, however - they managed to earn wins against every team in the group save Italy, including a key 3-1 victory in Belgrade that in retrospect was the major result in the group. The Faroe Islands managed to notch a rare international win by beating... Estonia, weirdly. What a strange little group this was.

Group D

France were hardly impressive on the final day of qualifying, but they did enough to secure a point against Bosnia-Herzegovina on the final matchday of Euro 2012 qualifying, securing themselves a place in the finals. Romania were once one of the better sides in Europe, but they've since been passed by Bosnia in quality by quite some distance and were never really a factor in qualifying.

Though Bosnia were the much better team for the opening 60 minutes of their last match against France, they eventually conceded an equalizer after starting 1-0 up and will have to qualify for Euro 2012 via the playoffs. They are an unseeded team, meaning they will play one of Portugal, Croatia, Ireland or the Czech Republic.

Group E

The Netherlands cruised through qualification and nearly emerged with a 100 percent record, although Sweden managed to trip them up in Stockholm on the last day to put an end to that. It was a bit too easy for the Dutch in a group that included both Moldova and San Marino.

Anyway, Sweden, with eight wins and two losses, managed to clinch the coveted 'best runner up' position, which came with automatic qualification to the summer tournament. Hurray Sweden. Boo rest of group! Especially San Marino and it's -53 goal differential. If you want to become an international footballer, I'd suggest moving there and naturalising. Perhaps you could become a captain too.

Group F

In what was almost certainly the weakest qualifying group in Euro 2012 qualification, Greece was able to squeak through in dramatic fashion, winning Group F on the final day to qualify for the finals this summer. Croatia led Latvia for the entirety of their match, while Greece trailed Georgia early. However, an injury after they had already used all three subs took Georgia down to ten men and Greece pounced, coming back to win 2-1 away in Georgia to take the group.

Croatia will have to qualify for the finals through the playoffs after finishing in second place. They are one of the seeded playoff teams, and cannot draw fellow second place sides Ireland, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

Group G

Anyone worth their footballing salt would have had Montenegro as dark horses to challenge Switzerland for runners up behind England in Group G, but I don't think anyone expected the ease at which they dealt with claiming a playoff spot - they'd already wrapped up second before losing to Switzerland on the final matchday, and they acquitted themselves very well against the leaders with draws in London and Podgorica.

Elsewhere, England did their usual trick of oscilating between good and disappointing, with the most crucial result for them yet to come - this week will see the length of Wayne Rooney's group stages ban revealed following the Manchester United striker's straight red against Montenegro. Switzerland could have done better but simply couldn't recover after losing two of their last three. Wales and Bulgaria, unsurprisingly, were both bad.

Group H

In what will appear to some casual football fans as a minor upset, Denmark was able to defeat Portugal at home on the final matchday of Euro 2012 qualifying, securing their place in this summer's finals. They were the better team for much of their 2-1 home victory, with Cristiano Ronaldo's goal for the visitors coming deep in stoppage time. Morten Olsen has been manager of the Danish national team since 2000, and once again showed off his tactical acumen as Denmark were more organized and more prepared for Tuesday's big game.

The final results are a bit harsh on Norway, who had a solid campaign and probably deserved better. In many groups, they would have been good enough to nick second place. Instead, that honor goes to Portugal. In disappointing fashion, just like with the 2010 World Cup, they will need to qualify via the playoffs. They are one of the seeded teams and cannot draw Croatia, Ireland, or the Czech Republic.

Group I

Spain won the Group I as expected and nobody in the right frame of mind would argue their class or victory. They are the European and  World champions for a reason.

Anyway, with Lithuania and Liechtenstein propping up the group, things looked all set up for a shootout between the Czech Republic and Scotland for second place, and Scotland at one point drew to Lithuania, which left them needing to go to Spain and win in order to secure a playoff spot. Needless to say, that wasn't going to happen, and it's the Czechs who emerge from Group I alongside the world champions.

Euro 2012 Qualifying: 12 Spots Clinched

The Euro 2012 field is 75 percent set after Tuesday's action, while four spots still remain to be decided. Six teams joined previously qualified Germany, Netherlands, England and Spain in the final matchday, along with the two hosts Poland and Ukraine. Here are all of the teams who have qualified for Euro 2012 thus far.

Poland - Tournament co-hosts
Ukraine - Tournament co-hosts
Germany - Group A winners
Russia - Group B winners
Italy - Group C winners
France - Group D winners
Netherlands - Group E winners
Greece - Group F winners
England - Group G winners
Denmark - Group H winners
Spain - Group I winners
Sweden - Group E runners up, best runners up

Eight Teams Contest Playoffs For Four Remaining Bids

Eight teams will contest the playoffs, with four teams advancing to Euro 2012 after a home and away aggregate series. UEFA will determine the teams' final coefficients, then conduct a draw with four seeded teams and four unseeded teams. Those eight teams are:

Portugal, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland, Estonia, Turkey, Montenegro

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