Sunday, October 17, 2021

MATCHDAY: Croatia, Dutch under pressure in WC qualifying

A look at what’s happening in European football on Friday:

world cup qualifying

Group E

With Belgium leading the runaways on nine points, the Czech Republic and Wales are fighting for second place and a place in the playoffs. The two teams are seven points ahead of their meeting in Prague, where Wales will be without star player Gareth Bale due to a hamstring injury. Bale was about to win his 100th cap – becoming only the second male player from Wales to do so – but the Real Madrid forward is rehabilitating in Spain with an issue that left him out of the team’s last two qualifiers against Belarus and Belgium. can also keep. The Czechs have played one match more than Wales. Belarus are fourth in the five-team group, four points behind Wales and the Czechs, ahead of the trip to Estonia. Belgium have no World Cup qualifiers in this international window as the team is playing in the last four of the Nations League.

Group G

For Netherlands midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, the international break comes at a welcome time. His move from Liverpool to Paris Saint-Germain did not go according to plan and he needs game time after losing his form and place at PSG. But Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal is still counting on him. The free-scoring Dutch have scored 22 goals in six games and are on top with Norway, with 13 points after both sides lost once each. Dutch forward Memphis Depay is the joint top scorer in qualifying with seven goals and will be confident of adding Latvia to fifth place in Riga. The Norwegian striker will be without Erling Haaland for the trip to Turkey. He has unspecified muscle problems. Last-placed Gibraltar has scored 25 goals and Montenegro is fourth in the second game.

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Group H

Croatia is looking to avoid the wrath of failing to qualify for the World Cup after reaching the final in 2018 and it is neck and neck with Russia at the top of the group. The final trip to Cyprus for Luka Modric and his teammates is expected to be a simple three points, and could put pressure on Russia. It could be a difficult game for the Russians at home against Slovakia, who won the reverse match between the two sides this year. Malta plays Slovenia.

Group G

After the team’s 2-1 loss to North Macedonia in March, new coach Hansi Flick put Germany’s qualifying campaign back on track with three wins last month, coming under his predecessor Joachim Lowe. Germany now hosts a Romania team that has won only one of its seven away games in the past 12 months. Second-placed Armenia, four points behind Germany, has stunned many with their strong start to qualifying and now takes Iceland away. North Macedonia visits Liechtenstein.

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