Schedule, preview for UEFA World Cup qualifying
Three full days of 2018 World Cup qualifying are coming your way.
This will be a lot of fun.
[ MORE: 5 key questions for USMNT ]
Plenty of crunch qualifiers will be pivotal in deciding the fate of teams across Europe as just the top team from the nine groups goes automatically through to the finals in Russia, plus the eight best second-placed teams earn their spot in a home and away playoff for the four remaining spots.
The main game to look out for on Friday is the Republic of Ireland hosting Wales in Dublin with Group D finely poised. Ireland currently leads the group with 10 points but Austria is in second on eight points and Wales in third on six points. Just like he did at EURO 2016 (remember Chris Coleman’s Wales made the semifinals) Gareth Bale will be the talisman for the Welsh at the Aviva Stadium. Ireland knows that a draw isn’t disastrous but a win would put them in a very strong position to reach their first World Cup since 2002.
[ VIDEO: Podolski bows out in style for Germany ]
Elsewhere on Friday, Spain host Israel in Gijon with the Israeli’s knowing a win would take them above the Spanish in a very congested Group G that has Italy and Spain at the top on 10 points with Israel on nine. Plus Croatia welcome Ukraine to Zagreb in Group I with the hosts top of the group but a big away win for Ukraine would see them climb to top spot.
On Saturday three games stick out with the Netherlands heading to Bulgaria in Group A as Danny Blind’s men look to strengthen their grip on second place and try to hunt down first-place France. Meanwhile in Group B, EURO 2016 champs Portugal host upstarts Hungary in a similar scenario as Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. have nine points to Hungary’s seven but both trail leaders Switzerland who have a 100 percent record so far in qualifying.
Speaking of perfect records, Roberto Martinez’s Belgium host Greece in Group H with the talented Belgian outfit looking to make it five wins out of five in qualifying but Greece, who sit on 10 points, knows a win would see them leapfrog Belgium into top spot.
On Sunday England’s quest to make it four wins from five sees them host Lithuania in Group F as Gareth Southgate’s men warmed up with a good performance but a disappointing defeat at Germany in a friendly. Elsewhere in Group F Scotland simply must beat Slovenia to have any chance of advancing to their first World Cup since 1998.
Group C leaders Germany head to Azerbaijan with Joachim Low’s men winning all four of their games so far, scoring 16 goals and not conceding in the process, while Northern Ireland host Norway in an intriguing clash as Michael O’Neil’s side hope to clinch second spot to continue their fine showing at EURO 2016.
Below is the full schedule for the next three days, while we will have reaction and analysis on all the World Cup qualifying games from the UEFA region.
Georgia vs. Serbia - 1 p.m. ET
Austria vs. Moldova - 3:45 p.m. ET
Republic of Ireland vs. Wales - 3:45 p.m. ET
Italy vs. Albania - 3:45 p.m. ET
Liechtenstein vs. FYR Macedonia - 3:45 p.m. ET
Spain vs. Israel - 3:45 p.m. ET
Turkey vs. Finland - 1 p.m. ET
Croatia vs. Ukraine - 3:45 p.m. ET
Kosovo vs. Iceland - 3:45 p.m. ET
Sweden vs. Belarus - 1 p.m. ET
Bulgaria vs. Netherlands - 3:45 p.m. ET
Luxembourg vs. France - 3:45 p.m. ET
Andorra vs. Faroe Islands - 1 p.m. ET
Switzerland vs. Latvia - 1 p.m. ET
Portugal vs. Hungary - 3:45 p.m. ET
Cyprus vs. Estonia - 1 p.m. ET
Bosnia vs. Gibraltar - 1 p.m. ET
Belgium vs. Greece - 3:45 p.m. ET
San Marino vs. Czech Republic - 12 p.m. ET
Azerbaijan vs. Germany - 12 p.m. ET
Northern Ireland vs. Norway - 2:45 p.m. ET
Armenia vs. Kazakhstan - 12 p.m. ET
Montenegro vs. Poland - 2:45 p.m. ET
Romania vs. Denmark - 2:45 p.m. ET
England vs. Lithuania - 12 p.m. ET
Scotland vs. Slovenia - 2:45 p.m. ET
Malta vs. Slovakia - 2:45 p.m. ET