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Saturday’s Euro qualifying preview: Israel looks to hold off Bale’s Wales; Italians, Dutch in action


Gareth Bale, Wales

AFP/Getty Images

Nine Euro 2016 qualifiers are set to go off today, with plenty of significant group movement possible by the time Saturday is through.

Beginning at 11 a.m. ET and spreading through the afternoon, UEFA qualifying will hope to build off some high-scoring Friday matches while avoiding any scary incidents like the abandonment of Russia-Montenegro after Igor Akinfeev was hit by a fan-thrown flare.

[ EURO: Qualifying review | Russia wants forfeit ]

Groups A, B and H are in play Saturday. Here’s what to watch for:

Group A
Kazakhstan vs. Iceland, 11 a.m. ET
Czech Republic vs. Latvia, Noon ET
Netherlands vs. Turkey, 2:45 p.m. ET

A big match for the Netherlands comes with Arjen Robben, and Turkey will hope to pick up three points on the rod to leapfrog the Dutch for third-place in the group. Both Czech Republic and Iceland will be heavy favorites for their matches.

Group B
Israel vs. Wales, 2 p.m. ET
Andorra vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2:45 p.m. ET
Belgium vs. Cyprus, 2:45 p.m. ET

Israel is a perfect 3-0 and leads the group despite having played one more game than No. 2 Wales and No. 3 Cyprus. It’s Gareth Bale and the Welsh visiting Israel on Saturday in what is going to be one of the more anticipated matches of the day. Meanwhile, Belgium can restore some order with a home win over Cyprus, having played one match less than the Cypriot side and sitting a point back of their opponents. Bosnia and Herzegovina hope to stop the head-scratching, having only picked up two points through four matches.

Group H
Azerbaijan vs. Malta, Noon ET
Croatia vs. Norway, 1 p.m. ET
Bulgaria vs. Italy, 2:45 p.m. ET

It’s congested at the top, where Italy and Croatia each have 10 points and drew in Italy earlier in the tournament. Norway is in second-place with nine points, and can stake a claim to one of the two automatic slots with a win today. Regardless of how the matches shake out, the top three and bottom three will be comprised of the same teams, if in a different order.

Follow @NicholasMendola