LONDON: European teams will be jostling for position on Wednesday when most of them play their final World Cup qualifying matches.

With only one game remaining this year, European champion Spain, Germany, England and the Netherlands are seeking victories to build comfortable leads over their qualifying challengers.

Only the winners of Europe’s nine groups are guaranteed places at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Perfect record

Spain is one of just three countries with a perfect record from three qualifying matches and can go as many as five points clear if it stretches its unbeaten streak to 27 games at Belgium, which is in second place in Group 5. Belgium is also unbeaten and is coming off a 2-0 win over Armenia.

The host will make at least one change by recalling Ajax defender Thomas Vermaelen, who was rested on Saturday to prevent him from getting a yellow card that would have ruled him out of the match in Brussels.

Like Spain, England has a maximum of nine points from three games, but has problems in defence ahead of its match at Belarus.

Captain John Terry and fullback Ashley Cole are both ruled out because of injury.

“It’s disappointing to lose two very experienced players,” England coach Fabio Capello said. — AP

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