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UEFA World Cup qualifiers: Matchday 7 analysis

UEFA World Cup qualifiers: Matchday 7 analysis - who's safe, what to watch

August 30, 2017 By Ali M.
With France vs Netherlands and Spain vs Italy set to be played the upcoming round, fans are in for an exciting international break.

 The international break is back. Football players from across the globe have left their clubs – those called up, at least – to join the national side for a run of international clashes.

With the World Cup in Russia fast approaching, the current international break will be dominated by World Cup qualifiers. In Europe, the race to book a ticket to next year’s coveted tournament is heating up.

Here’s an analysis on how things stand in the UEFA qualifiers ahead of Matchday 7.

Key fixtures

August 31: France vs Netherlands at 11:45 PT / 14:45 ET / 18:45 UTC / 19:45 BST / 20:45 CET

September 1: Czech Republic vs Germany at 11:45 PT / 14:45 ET / 18:45 UTC / 19:45 BST / 20:45 CET

September 2: Spain vs Italy at 11:45 PT / 14:45 ET / 18:45 UTC / 19:45 BST / 20:45 CET

September 3: Hungary vs Portugal at 11:45 PT / 14:45 ET / 18:45 UTC / 19:45 BST / 20:45 CET

September 3: Greece vs Belgium at 11:45 PT / 14:45 ET / 18:45 UTC / 19:45 BST / 20:45 CET

September 4: England vs Slovakia at 11:45 PT / 14:45 ET / 18:45 UTC / 19:45 BST / 20:45 CET

Who has been eliminated?

As of now, seven nations have already been eliminated: Luxembourg, San Marino, Malta, Macedonia, Liechtenstein, Finland, and Kosovo. Furthermore, the qualifiers look gloomy for more countries.

An additional six teams cannot win an automatic qualification, meaning they are fighting for a spot in the play-offs. They are Faroe Islands, Andorra, Latvia, Norway, Kazakhstan, and Gibraltar. 

Who's on the brink of qualification? 

When you exclude the hosts, no team from Europe has qualified for Russia yet. However, there are teams leading the race for the remaining 13 spots.

11 points separates Group B leaders Switzerland and third-placed Hungary. Portugal, in second, trail by three points, which means Shaqiri and Co. are guaranteed a spot in the play-offs at the very least.

World Cup holders Germany are five points ahead of second-placed Northern Ireland. Joachim Low’s side do not look ready to drop points.

Group E leaders Poland are six points ahead of second-placed Montenegro. With Lewandowski leading their attack, it’s only a matter of time before they earn their spot in Russia.

Which big nations are struggling to qualify?

Netherlands currently occupy third spot, but a win against France on Wednesday will see them leapfrog Les Bleus. Portugal are second in Group B, but could keep the heat – or possibly overtake – Switzerland if the leaders slip-up.

In Group D, Wales, led by Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, are in third. They are four points behind Serbia and Republic of Ireland. Italy are in second, but are tied on points with leaders Spain.

Key stats heading into Matchday 7

  • Switzerland and Germany are the only two countries in Europe with a perfect record in the qualifiers.
  • The aforementioned sides, Greece, Belgium, Spain, Italy, England, Poland, Serbia, and Republic of Ireland are the remaining undefeated teams.
  • Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo lead the topscorers chart with 11 goals each.
  • The Portugal captain boasts a ratio of a goal every 41 minutes.

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