MATCHDAY: France, Belgium, Netherlands can qualify for WCup

·2 min read

A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Saturday:

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING

GROUP D

Defending champion France can book its place for Qatar if it beats last-placed Kazakhstan at home. Les Bleus will be missing the injured Paul Pogba in midfield so Aurelien Tchouameni or Adrien Rabiot could be handed a start alongside N'Golo Kante at Parc des Princes, where Rabiot used to play for Paris Saint-Germain. Tchouameni has impressed for Monaco and slotted in effortlessly at international level since making his debut two months ago. But Rabiot's form has been patchy for a below-par Juventus this season. However, France is heavy favorite to win the group. In the other game, Bosnia and Herzegovina hosts Finland with an afternoon kickoff in Zenica.

GROUP E

Belgium has been hit by an avalanche of injuries ahead of its match against Estonia, with Romelu Lukaku, Michy Batshuayi, Jeremy Doku, Thomas Vermaelen, Youri Tielemans and Toby Alderweireld all out. Belgium is five points clear of both the Czech Republic and Wales and will qualify with a win, or if third-placed Wales fails to beat Belarus. In the absence of Lukaku, Christian Benteke is expected to lead the Red Devils' attack. More than 35,000 fans are expected to attend the game at King Baudouin Stadium, only the second time since the start of the pandemic that so many fans are allowed, according to the Belgian federation.

GROUP G

The Netherlands, which missed out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, hold a two-point lead and can qualify as the first-place finisher with a win at Montenegro. That, though, would also rely on second-placed Norway failing to beat Latvia at home. Otherwise, the group will be determined in the final round of group games on Tuesday. Joël Drommel (illness), Steven Berghuis and Jurriën Timber (injured) are out for the Dutch but Steven Bergwijn, Jasper Cillessen and Devyne Rensch are available for Louis van Gaal’s team. Montenegro will be without its star player, Stevan Jovetic, after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

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The Associated Press

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