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The qualifying for the 2008 European Championship - the biggest soccer tournament in the world behind the World Cup - ends today. Well, it is supposed to end - it could actually be extended for a few days.

Here's an update from my post last week:

In Group A, my beloved Finns still have a slim, slim chance of qualifying for their first major tournament ever. They have to beat Azerbaijan on Saturday, which should be pretty easy, and then they have to beat Portugal in Portugal on Wednesday, which will be awfully tough. Even then, they need Serbia to draw or lose of their final two games.

So far, so good. Finland beat Azerbaijan. Now they have to beat Portugal, and they still need someone to help out against Serbia. That's why things might get extended - Serbia's match last weekend against Kazakhstan got snowed out and won't be played until this Saturday. So if Serbia beat already-qualified Poland today and Finland pulls off the miracle in Portugal, it would come down to Serbia needing to beat the Kazakhs on Saturday.

The odds are that Portugal will at least get a draw today and qualify.

In Group B, Scotland is in if they beat Italy tomorrow and out if they lose. If they draw, the Scots would get in if the Ukraine beats France on Wednesday.

Italy won 2-1 on a last-minute goal after a terrible decision by the ref, so Italy and France are in, and Scotland has Glorious Failure #721.

In Group E, England needs Israel to at least get a draw with Russia tomorrow, then needs to beat Croatia on Wednesday. If the Russians beat Israel, England would have to beat Croatia by 2-0, or if Croatia scores, by at least three goals.

Israel stunned everyone by beating Russia 2-1, so England goes to Euro 2008 with a draw today against Croatia. The English manager, Steve McClaren, is going to get fired if they don't qualify, and he's made a couple interesting moves. He's changed goalkeepers - Scott Carson is going to start instead of Paul Robinson - and David Beckham isn't going to start.

In some ways, the Beckham move makes sense - he's barely played in months, but it might be a mistake. England is only playing one forward - 6'7" Peter Crouch - and the one thing that Beckham can still do better than anyone is put a ball into the goal area for a tall guy to head into the net.

If England loses, Russia qualifies by beating Andorra. Thus far in the qualifying tournament, Andorra has played 11 games, lost 11 games, scored two goals and given up 41. They have lost all 29 Euro Championship qualifying matches they've played over three cycles - 2004, 2004 and 2008. They have, however, managed one win and two draws in 22 World Cup qualifying matches - a win and
a draw over The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia and a draw with, um, well, Finland.

Andorra is currently ranked 173rd out of the 208 teams in FIFA, the world organizing body. They actually aren't the worst European team - the Faroe Islands are 19th and San Marino is 196th. So far in Euro 2008, the Faroes have gone 0-for-11 with three goals scored and 40 against, while San Marino is 0-for-11 with two goals scored and 52 against.

So combined, the three minnows of European soccer have zero wins, 33 losses, seven goals and 133 against.

You may say to yourself, "Self, what would happen if they played each other?". That's a good question. San Marino and the Faroes were drawn into the same qualifying group for Euro 1996, and the Faroes won 3-0 at home and 3-1 in San Marino.

(The Faroes used to play their home matches in Sweden, because they didn't have any grass soccer pitches. They now have one, in Toftir.)

Andorra and the Faroes played to a scoreless draw in 1999 in an exhibition match. San Marino has never played Andorra.

The other groups are simpler. In Group C, defending champ Greece is in, and will be joined by the winner of Turkey-Norway.

This isn't as clear as I thought. Norway was in with a win, but lost 2-1 at home to Turkey. Turkey now needs to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina at home to get in. They lost to B-H on the road 3-2 in June, so that's not a guarantee. If Turkey draws or loses, Norway will get in by beating hapless Malta.

In Group D, the Czech Republic and Germany are already in. In Group F, Sweden and Spain are in, barring a serious of ridiculous upsets. Austria and Switzerland are already qualified as co-hosts.

Northern Ireland still has a slight chance in Group F - they need to win in Spain today and for Sweden to lose at home to Latvia. Neither is very likely.
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