Spain has played at every World Cup since 1978. With one qualifying game left, the Spaniards still are not certain of reaching next year's tournament in Germany.
Even 1998 champion France isn't guaranteed of getting there. After today's final qualifying games, both countries could be left battling for a spot through the playoffs next month.
In order to win the group and secure a spot in the 32-team field, Spain needs to beat San Marino by as many goals as possible and hope Group 7 leader Serbia and Montenegro drops points at home to Balkan rival Bosnia.
"I'm banking on the playoffs now," Spain Coach Luis Aragones said. "Before Saturday I was more optimistic, thinking that Lithuania was not going to lose against Serbia."
Instead, Serbia and Montenegro beat Lithuania, 2-0.
Serbia and Montenegro will host Bosnia in Belgrade amid deep ethnic divisions left over from the war that ended a decade ago with 250,000 dead. The Serbs will take the group with a win, but Bosnia can also win the group if it wins and Spain does not.
Spain beat San Marino, 5-0, when the teams last met in February. Spain won, 9-0 and 6-0, in Euro 2000 qualifiers.
France, Switzerland and Ireland are all capable of winning Group 4, with unbeaten Israel still in the hunt for the second-place playoff spot.
France will host Cyprus today, while Switzerland goes to Ireland. Israel, which has played all its games, will find out if it clinched a spot in the playoffs on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
France can win the group with a victory if Switzerland does not win in Dublin. The Swiss can take the group with a win or draw, as long as France ties or loses. Ireland needs to win and hope France loses or ties.
But even if France wins, Switzerland can top the group with a win in Dublin, depending on goal difference. "We have to win," French midfielder Patrick Vieira said. "The number of goals is secondary. It's just important that we score first."
Vieira put his team's chance of qualification today at "50-50" and said Les Bleus were prepared to face the lottery of a playoff.
In Group 1, the Czech Republic and Romania can still finish second behind the Netherlands. The Czechs face Finland, while Romania has finished its qualifying campaign.
Ukraine has won Group 2, with Turkey, Denmark and Greece still fighting for the playoff spot.
Turkey, which reached the semifinals at the 2002 World Cup but failed to qualify for the 2004 European Championship, can take second place with a win at Albania. Denmark can take the playoff spot if it beats Kazakhstan and Turkey ties, while Greece needs to beat Georgia and hope Turkey loses and Denmark fails to win.
Portugal has won Group 3, and either Russia or Slovakia, who face each other in Bratislava, will get the playoff spot. Croatia already has claimed a spot from Group 8, but Sweden can still win it. The Swedes face Iceland at home. Croatia leads Sweden by two points, but a Swedish win combined with a Croatian loss will give the Croats one of the two best runner-up spots.
In South America, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay have qualified. Uruguay, Colombia and Chile are in contention for the playoff berth against Oceania champion Australia, and Uruguay would clinch with a win over Argentina.
In North and Central America and the Caribbean, whose three berths were claimed by the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago has a one-point lead over Guatemala in the fight for the playoff berth. T&T hosts Mexico, and Guatemala -- which has the tiebreaker edge -- hosts Costa Rica.
The CONCACAF fourth-place team meets Bahrain or Uzbekistan. Bahrain is at home today in the second leg after a 1-1 tie.