With that in mind here are the key matches in Tuesday's UEFA 2012 qualifying.
So we've had some interesting results in Friday's fixtures that have altered the landscape of qualifying for UEFA 2012. Now its on to these matches and how they could affect the final round of qualifying in October
11 a.m EST/8 a.m. PDT --- Group B, Russia vs. Ireland --- Russia are in the catbird seat in this group, but they were made to work very hard by the Macedonians and were a touch fortunate that Igor Semshov's strike was enough. They are two points clear after Ireland and Slovakia drew a blank in Dublin. This is the early game in this group and while a draw would favor the Russians, a win would almost sew up a top two spot and put major pressure on the Slovakians playing later. Ireland does have a negotiable final two matches, but I still stand by what I said before Friday's games, that they needed 4 points from these two games to give themselves a chance. Will be interested to see if Ireland can take the attacking vigor they showed in the final 20 minutes of Dublin and take that with them to Moscow.
2:15 p.m. EST/11:15 a.m PDT --- Two games here to watch for here, first in Group B, Slovakia vs. Armenia. I've sort of ignored the Armenians but they have 11 points in the group and are an up-and-coming side. They held Russia and thumped Slovakia 3-1 at home. The Slovakians turned in an improved performance against Ireland after labouring in two wins over Andorra. The Repre were well on top in the middle portion in the game and despite Ireland's late dominance were good value for their point. With the home match with Russia looming its vital that Slovakia get all 3 points here.
In Group D its Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Belarus. This is a rematch from Friday and Bosnia were superb in their 2-0 victory, scoring twice in two minutes and the comfortably holding off the Belarussians. A win for Bosnia here and they will finish Belarus' chances and have a hammer lock on a top two spot. If they could get some help from Romania (hosting France in their own must win 15 minutes after this starts), the Bosnians could even think about upsetting France to win the group. And that week in October might be the biggest in that young country's sporting history.
2:30 p.m. EST/11:30 a.m. PDT --- Most of the games start at this time and while I briefly mentioned Romania-France my game of the day starts then and it's in Group H, Denmark vs. Norway. The Danes scored early in the first meeting with the Norwegians and only a late goal from Erik Huselkepp prevented them from walking away with the maximum. Denmark has 10 points and a game in hand on both Norway and Portugal (each with 13 points). A draw here would leave this group on a knife's edge. The Danes need to win this game for me, because if they do with Portugal to come at home, a win here would mean they control their own destiny. A draw here and its advantage Norway for second place because there final game is at home to Cyprus.
2:45 p.m. EST/11:45 a.m. PDT --- England-Wales in Group G is only a little more interesting because Wales put behind a load of bad form and upset co-group leaders Montenegro, doing England a massive favor. For that alone I am looking to see if the England fans will surprise me and respect the Welsh anthem, somehow I doubt it. And England win would leave them only needing a draw at Montenegro in their final group game to qualify for UEFA 2012.
The more interesting game is in Group C and its Italy vs. Slovenia. Slovenia had an absolute nightmare at home against Estonia and away to the group leaders (who can qualify with a win) they are facing a mountain to climb. The Slovenians are level with Serbia on 11 points, but they've played a game more. Worse for them is that Serbia has the Faroe Islands at home. And while the Faroes are having one of their best campaigns under former Ireland manager Brian Kerr, the Serbians won 3-0 in Torshavn and should win at home. So for Slovenia its pretty simple, draw is the absolute minimum and the win is probably necessary (although Italy with nothing to play for could do them a favor in October). A loss and Slovenia could be as far down as 4th in the group (Estonia and Northern Ireland are playing each other and each could move above them with a win).