After the opening October international matches on Thursday, England and Germany are the two new teams that have secured their place at the World Cup next year. However, Friday brings new kinds of excitement.
Four Manchester United players will be in action. Nemanja Matic will represent Serbia in Austria and David De Gea will be in goal for Spain against Albania. Matteo Darmian is part of Italy’s squad for the match against FYR Macedonia. In Africa, Eric Bailly travels with his Ivory Coast to Mali.
Serbia’s Golden Ticket To World Cup
This is one of the two clear situations in front of Serbia. The Eagles have to win any of their two matches, against Austria in Vienna or Georgia at home, to secure their place in Russia. Nemanja Matic will be in the heart of midfield alongside Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic.
Serbia has not been at a World Cup since 2010. If they win in Vienna it will be only their third qualification for a big tournament after the Euro 2000. The Manchester United ace has been in good form for Serbia during qualifiers. He plays in a similar formation to Chelsea’s last season and his experience has been very important so far. However, Dusan Tadic and Aleksandar Mitrovic – another two Premier League players – have carried most of the team’s burden on their shoulders.
In Group D are Wales and Republic of Ireland as well. With three and four points less than Serbia respectively, they hope for a miracle.
Wild prediction: Matic scores the winning goal from 30 yards out
Spain And Italy To Stay Where They Are
The finalists of the Euro 2012 have been drawn into the same qualifying group this time around. They produced two great head-to-head matches so far, but Spain got the better of them. After a 4-0 win in Madrid â€“ sounds familiar? â€“ Spain are much closer to winning the group.
David De Gea did well for the Spaniards so far and he is expected to continue the same way against Albania on Friday night. The group consisting them and Macedonia, Israel and Liechtenstein proved to be an easy one, with only Italy being a big threat. However, a win for Spain is expected to get them closer to a World Cup qualification.
Italy, however, have to pray for two miracles if they want to finish top of the group. Matteo Darmian is in Giampiero Ventura’s squad but there is not much Italy can do now. They are most likely to finish second in the group, whatever their results be in the final two matches. Macedonia at home should be an easy task, but the November play-off matches seem like reality for this team.
Wild prediction: Albania and Macedonia win away from home
Bailly Is The Key For Ivory Coast
Eric Bailly will be playing for Ivory Coast on Friday night away in Mali. Ivoirians are top of the Group C after four matches. However, they are just a point ahead of Morocco and two points in front of Gabon. With only the first placed team going to Russia, it means everything is still possible as there are six points to play for.
First of their matches comes against Mali who won only two points so far and should be a good chance for making extending their lead in table.
Wild prediction: Bailly scores a scissor-kick goal in a 4-0 win