FIFA World Cup 2010 Preview
The domestic season may be over but there is no rest for Europe’s elite as World Cup qualifying resumes this weekend. With games running out, this round of fixtures could prove crucial in determining the line up for South Africa 2010.
Portugal have endured a disastrous first half of qualifying, picking up just six points from their opening five matches. They travel to Albania in a must win game, while group leaders Denmark face a difficult trip to Sweden. With Portugal currently seven points behind Denmark, their under-fire manager Carlos Queiroz could find himself out of a job, should they slip further behind this weekend.
There is just one game in group three, as Slovakia look to reclaim top spot with a win at home to San Marino. The visitors will merely be looking to avoid further embarrassment after their last match ended in a 10-0 defeat to Poland.
Finland will be looking to keep up the pressure on second placed Russia as they take on Lichtenstein in Helsinki. Meanwhile Wales travel to Azerbaijan looking to restore some confidence after a poor run of results.
All six teams are in action on Saturday as leaders England look to move another step closer to qualification. England are one of only three teams with a 100% record and will be expected to continue their good run with victory in Kazakhstan. Second and third meet in Zagreb as Croatia take on Ukraine while Andorra will be hoping to collect their first point as they travel to Belarus.
Surprise package Lithuania have the chance to move back above France as they host struggling Romania. However the big match of the group sees Austria trying to keep alive their hopes of qualification as they travel to group leaders Serbia.
Second and third meet in group eight as Republic of Ireland face Bulgaria in Sofia. The Republic are currently unbeaten and a win would see them move above Italy. Elsewhere Cyprus play Montenegro.
Netherlands have the chance to all but wrap up World Cup qualification when they travel to third placed Iceland. The Dutch are currently 8 points clear of second placed Scotland.