After a slightly delayed start to the European club season (in the case of Spain & Italy), their will once again be no Premier League, La Liga or Serie A matches this weekend as the soccer world goes on a short international break. Instead it’s time to pull out your Spain Jersey or other favorite country jersey as most top players will report to the respective national teams who are preparing for important qualifying games for Euro 2012 in Poland & Ukraine.
In this all European competition, 41 countries battle it out in 9 qualifying groups for 16 berths in the final competition. Each group winner and runner-up progresses automatically, while the remaining 8 second place countries compete in two-legged play-offs to decide who fills the remaining spots. Similar to the World Cup, teams are split into 4 team groups at the Euro 2012 finals with the top 2 advancing to the quarter-final knockout competition.
While several of the world’s best including Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have all but locked up their spots in the finals, other big names like Portugal, England and France still have work to do.