Italy, Spain aim to follow in Germany's footsteps

Italy and reigning European champions Spain can join Germany in qualifying for the UEFA Euro 2012 finals by winning on home soil on a busy Tuesday of international action.

Germany - beaten finalists in Vienna in 2008 - made sure of their place at next summer's tournament by hammering Austria 6-2 on Friday to make it eight wins out of eight in qualifying Group A. Joachim Low's side can relax as they travel to Poland for a friendly this midweek, but the chance is there for two other major nations to clinch qualification.

Fresh from overturning a two-goal deficit to beat Chile 3-2 in a friendly in Switzerland, Spain need only beat the minnows of Liechtenstein in Logrono to make sure of first place in Group I. The fighting spirit shown by Vicente del Bosque's side helped calm fears of a rift in the camp between rival Real Madrid and Barcelona factions, and Cesc Fabregas insisted that the squad are united in their goal to retain their European crown.

"Here we are all team-mates and we all want to do our best for the national team," said the Barcelona midfielder. "Nobody will ever change that. It's time to put this subject to bed once and for all. We have to be more together than ever if we want to repeat what we did at Euro 2008 and at the World Cup."

Spain will equal their record of 12 consecutive competitive wins if they can overcome the minnows.

Italy made heavy weather of beating the unfancied Faroe Islands on Friday, but Antonio Cassano scored the only goal of the game and now Cesare Prandelli's side can guarantee first place in Group C by beating Slovenia in Florence.

"I won't change too much against Slovenia," said Prandelli despite admitting that his side were poor against the Faroes. "We will be up against a side that have to win to keep their hopes alive and that should work in our favour. We should have more space to play in and attack them as a result."

Third-placed Serbia - who host the Faroe Islands - are the only team still capable of catching Italy, but they are eight points adrift of the Azzurri with just nine still to play for.

Oranje crush
Fresh from recording a record 11-0 win over San Marino, the world's number one-ranked side the Netherlands could also seal qualification. They travel to Finland looking to maintain their perfect record in Group E, but Bert van Marwijk's men will only officially be through to the finals with two games to spare if they win and Sweden slip up in San Marino, hardly a likely scenario.

England will all but seal qualification from Group G with a win at home to neighbours Wales while Scotland must beat Lithuania at Hampden to keep their hopes of taking second spot in Group I alive.

Group D leaders France travel to Romania looking to stretch an unbeaten run that currently stands at 12 games while Group F front-runners Greece go to Latvia as their two rivals for top spot, Croatia and Israel, meet in Zagreb.

There is also a vital showdown in Group H, with Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Norway - both rivals for Portugal in the race for first place - going head to head in Copenhagen.

The game of the day, though, could come in Moscow, where Group B leaders Russia entertain Republic of Ireland. Giovanni Trapattoni's Irish side relinquished top spot after being held to a goalless draw at home by Slovakia on Friday, and now Russia hold a two-point lead over both Ireland and the Slovaks. The plastic pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium could give Russia an advantage, but Trapattoni believes that the visitors can spring a surprise if they find their goal-scoring touch.

"If we create the same opportunities, it's vital that we take them," he said. "I would have been more disappointed against Slovakia if we had not created chances but now, we need to score. Our defence played well. Six successive clean sheets is good for our growth and mentality. But we will look to win against Russia."

A defeat would all but kill off Ireland's hopes but Slovakia can remain in the hunt if they get the better of Armenia.