The second match-day of the October international matches has passed, another national team book their place for the World Cup in Russia. Spain managed to beat Albania 3-0 with Manchester United’s David De Gea in goal, while Italy drew 1-1 against Macedonia. Matteo Darmian was on the pitch for Azzuri yet the Spaniards were the ones who will be in Russia next summer.
While we successfully predicted Nemanja Matic will score a goal for Serbia against Austria on Friday night (though not the manner in which he will score, but still…), we are now turning our attentions to the Saturday matches. Three Manchester United players will be in action
Bosnia & Herzegovina vs World Cup-bound Belgium
Belgium has already qualified for the World Cup. They have 22 points, eight more than their next rival who is sitting in second place. Bosnia will have to do everything they can to beat one of the most talented European sides. However, that might not be enough for them, as they are currently the worst second-placed team in these qualifiers and only eight out of nine second-placed sides will go to play-off.
Marouane Fellaini is in Belgium’s squad and is expected to play on Saturday night. Romelu Lukaku has been called up by Roberto Martinez but will not play due to a minor injury. However, the Manchester United striker might be part of the starting XI on Tuesday when Belgium host Cyprus in their final qualifying match prior to the World Cup next year.
Wild prediction: Fellaini scores a hat-trick
Sweden vs Luxembourg
Victor Lindelof is part of the Swedish national team and they will most certainly need his help if they are to at least reach the play-offs. Sweden are in second place currently in Group A, with a point less than the leading France.
After Didier Deschamps’ side shockingly drew 0-0 against Luxembourg, Sweden will have to remain focused. They are expected to win this one and put the pressure on France, who play in Bulgaria. However, a win for Sweden will most certainly mean they will secure play-offs in November and a direct place in Russia will be much harder to get.
Wild prediction: Lindelof scores a brace in a 6-0 win
Belarus vs Netherlands
In the same Group A, Netherlands will play in Belarus. Daley Blind has been called-up again and should play an important part in this team. Netherlands still have hopes of reaching the play-offs. However, with three points behind Sweden and two rounds to play, their chances are slim.
Netherlands have to win in Borisov to keep their chances alive before a direct clash against Sweden. Still, the Swedes have a goal-difference of +11, six more than Netherlands and only a miracle will be needed. Either Sweden failing to beat Luxembourg, or Netherlands beating Sweden heavily.
Anyhow, it will be interesting to see Daley Blind in action. He has not been playing recently for Manchester United and these two matches will do him worlds of good.
Wild prediction: Blind scores a match-winning free-kick