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Euro 2016 Forecaster: Will Netherlands, Ireland qualify or miss out?

The ESPN FC crew share their thoughts on the Netherlands' chances of qualifying for Euro 2016 as they trail Turkey by two points in Group A.

The final week of UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying begins on Thursday, and 15 berths will be claimed by next Tuesday.

Though only five berths have been officially claimed (Austria, Czech Republic, England and Iceland, plus host France), most of the top teams have nearly sewn up their spots. That means the remaining drama lies largely in teams jockeying between second place (and an automatic berth) and third place (and a playoff), or among countries fighting simply to make the playoffs.

Remember that the top two teams in each of the nine groups qualify directly, along with the best of the nine third-place teams. The other eight third-place teams enter home-and-home playoffs for the final four places in France.

Here's how ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) forecasts the final games of group play, with odds for qualifying either directly or for the playoffs. All percentages are based on 10,000 SPI simulations. (For more information on SPI, see Nate Silver's explainers here, here and here.)

The nine groups are divided into three categories based on the remaining drama expected:


 By PA Sport

Germany, Bayern legend Gerd Muller suffering from Alzheimer's

Gerd Muller was a scoring machine for Bayern Munich during the 1969-70 season.
Gerd Muller, 69, has been dealing with Alzheimer's disease, Bayern Munich has confirmed.

Bayern Munich have confirmed reports that their former striker Gerd Muller, who was Germany's all-time leading goalscorer until Miroslav Klose broke his record at the 2014 World Cup, has Alzheimer's.

Bayern published a statement on their website confirming that Muller, who turns 70 on Nov. 3, is receiving treatment for the illness and that no official celebrations will therefore be held.

The statement read: "For a long time Gerd Muller has unfortunately been very ill, he suffers from Alzheimer's...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Gareth Bale fit for Wales, says team are ready for final Euro 2016 qualifiers

Gareth Bale is fit for Wales final two Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Wales are "ready" ahead of Saturday's European Championship Group B qualifier away to Bosnia-Herzegovina which could see them end their 58-year absence from a major tournament, Gareth Bale said as he declared himself fit to play.

Real Madrid forward Bale has been battling a calf injury he sustained on Sept. 15, but he came on for 20 minutes during Sunday's 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid and insists he is fully fit.

Wales need just one more point to secure a place in the Euro 2016 finals in France,...

 By PA Sport

John Stones out of England squad as Kyle Walker, Andros Townsend fill in

John Stones could not recover from a knee injury in time to feature for England this week.

Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend have been called up to the England squad after John Stones pulled out through injury.

Stones missed the last two Everton games after suffering a knee injury in their Capital One Cup win over Reading on Sept. 22.

Roy Hodgson named Stones in his squad for the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania when it was announced last week, but on Tuesday night the Football Association confirmed the 21-year-old had withdrawn.

Lukas Podolski out of Euro 2016 qualifiers vs. Ireland, Georgia

Lukas Podolski (right) is Germany's third all-time highest scorer with 48 goals, 23 behind Miroslav Klose (left).

BERLIN -- Germany forward Lukas Podolski has been ruled out of the world champions' Euro 2016 qualifiers against Republic of Ireland and Georgia with a left ankle injury.

Podolski, 30, travelled with a swollen ankle and was diagnosed upon arrival at the training centre of the German football federation (DFB) in Frankfurt with "a painful capsule irritation of the left upper ankle joint."

 By Kelvin Leong

WCQ: Stange earmarked flying Van Huizen for Singapore in 2013

ESPN FC's Jason Dasey and John Wilkinson discusses Singapore's upcoming World Cup qualifier against Afghanistan at National Stadium on October 8th.

Christopher Van Huizen was earmarked for national selection two years ago, according to Singapore head coach Bernd Stange.

The LionsXII winger is due to make his international debut in an AFC 2018 World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium on Thursday night.

The former football reality star, who is now a familiar name with Malaysia Super League club LionsXII, was named in Stange's 24-man squad the Group E matches against Afghanistan and Cambodia (Oct. 13).

"Two years ago, I was very unhappy,"...