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Euro 2012 qualifying

Bayern stars cluster in Group A

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The qualifying campaign for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine will feature a number of head-to-head clashes between Bayern stars, especially in Group A where Germany, Turkey, Austria and Belgium all rely on men from Munich. The section is completed by Kazakhstan, coached by German national Bernd Storck, and Azerbaijan, coached by former Germany boss Berti Vogts.

“It’s a German-speaking group with German coaches,“ commented Germany boss Joachim Löw following Sunday’s draw at the Palace of Culture in Warsaw. “Turkey and ourselves are the favourites.”

Talking point among the players

Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez will all be looking forward to crossing swords with club colleagues Hamit Altintop of Turkey, Belgium stopper Daniel van Buyten and Austrian youngster David Alaba. “I’m really looking forward to the games against Germany. I’ve already been joking about it with my Bayern team-mates," Daniel van Buyten said after Sunday training.

“One thing’s for certain: we’ll want to win the group,“ Gomez declared. “But there are no easy teams there.” Austria lost 1-0 to Germany in their group at Euro 2008, while Löw’s men went on to register a last-gasp victory over the Turks in the semi-finals. Lahm netted at the death to win it 3-2. “Germany are favourites, followed by us,“ said Altintop.

Tough group for Ribéry

Franck Ribéry and France have also landed in a challenging section. Les Bleus have been drawn in Group D with Romania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Belarus, Albania and Luxembourg. A number of interesting games lie ahead for Netherlands pair Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben, who face Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Moldova and San Marino.

Finally, FCB’s Croatia pair Ivica Olic and Danijel Pranjic were placed in Group F with Greece, Israel, Georgia, Latvia and Malta.

Kick-off in September

The first round of qualifiers takes place on 3 September 2010, with the contest to be concluded on 11 October 2011. The nine group winners and the best of the runners-up qualify directly for the tournament from 9 June to 1 July 2012. The remaining eight runners-up will contest play-offs in November 2011 to assign the four remaining berths.

Joint hosts Poland and Ukraine qualify automatically. The Ukrainian host cities are the capital Kyiv, which is also the venue for the final, plus Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lviv. The Polish host cities are Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk and Poznan.