Final Euro qualifiers promise rare drama

Updated: 2011-10-10 14:06


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BERNE - The largely predictable Euro 2012 qualifying tournament could throw up real late drama on Tuesday with France and Portugal involved in make-or-break matches.

France host Bosnia in a game which will send one of the teams to Poland and Ukraine and condemn the other to trying their luck in a two-legged playoff next month.

Denmark and Portugal will be playing for a direct spot at next year's tournament when they meet in Copenhagen, with the visitors at risk of missing out altogether if they lose.

There have been precious few such matches in the marathon nine-group qualifying competition, which has consisted largely of embarrassingly easy wins for the top teams.

Germany, Italy, England, Spain and Netherlands have all qualified, joining co-hosts Poland and Ukraine, without losing a match between them.

UEFA president Michel Platini has expressed concern for the future of international football although he does not see the Euro qualifying tournament as the problem, saying the small nations have a right to meet the top sides.

However, he will take little comfort for Tuesday's programme where 27 of the 44 teams in action have nothing to play for apart from pride and nine of the 22 matches are effectively dead rubbers.

The Moldova v San Marino, Switzerland v Montenegro, Hungary v Finland, Kazakhstan v Austria and Macedonia v Slovakia games, all featuring teams whose fate is sealed one way or the other, are hardly likely to set pulses racing.

Five more teams - the final four group winners and the best runners-up - will ensure their places on Tuesday while the other eight second-placed sides will go into the playoffs to decide the last four qualifiers.

The most attractive fixture pits Denmark and Portugal, level on 16 points at the top of Group H.

One point would be enough for Portugal, who have won their last five games in the group, thanks to their better head-to-head record.