September’s international window is approaching its end, with the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle entering the crunch period.
Several top European nations have perfect opportunities to all but cement their places at the upcoming World Cup finals.
Let’s take a look at the three likeliest outcomes on Wednesday.
Field day for Belgium in Belarus
Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku and Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard fired Belgium to an overwhelming 3-0 home victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday.
After extending their advantage at the summit to a staggering eight points, FIFA’s best-ranked nation look to be on the verge of reaching their third consecutive appearance at the World Cup finals.
Roberto Martinez’s men are warm favourites to maintain their 100% record in September’s international break as they take on sub-par Belarus at the Central Stadium.
Georgi Kondratiev’s side turned a 2-1 half-time lead into a 3-2 defeat to Wales at home last time out, stretching their losing streak to four straight games.
Belarus’ wait for their first-ever appearance at a major international tournament is likely to be postponed once again as they head into proceedings trailing second-placed Czechs by four points.
On top of that, the 8-0 thumping in the reverse fixture suggests FIFA’s number 89 ranked nation look like a doomed outfit here.
Hansi Flick’s Germany are unstoppable
Hansi Flick marked his managerial debut at Germany with a comfortable 2-0 away win over minnows Liechtenstein before guiding his side to a 6-0 thrashing of Armenia last time out.
The victory that propelled Die Mannschaft back to the top of Group J should inject more confidence into the travelling camp as they look to avoid any more road bumps en route to Qatar 2022.
Underperforming Iceland, who despite coming from a two-goal deficit to held North Macedonia to a 2-2 home draw last time out, already look to be waving goodbye to their hopes of securing a top-two finish.
A record of two defeats from three competitive H2Hs, accompanied by zero goals scored, douses any embers of optimism.
Winless in their last four home matches in all competitions (D1, L3), Iceland seem likely to fulfil the role of whipping boys here.
Time to overcome Euro 2020 hangover
Italy defied the odds to lift the European Championship trophy, beating England on penalties in the final as they announced their return to the big stage after missing out on the World Cup in Russia.
However, despite shattering Spain’s record of 35 straight internationals without a loss, Italy’s 36-game unbeaten streak includes back-to-back draws with Bulgaria and Switzerland in September.
Roberto Mancini’s men are no longer in firm control of proceedings in Group C as they hold a healthy four-point lead over second-place Swiss, who have two games in hand.
So Gli Azzurri can ill-afford another slip, with the visit of group basement boys Lithuania at the Mapei Stadium representing a prime opportunity for Italy to return to winning ways. ,
The visitors have lost all four 2022 World Cup qualifying matches by an aggregate score of 8-1 and have already lost any chance of reaching their first-ever World Cup finals.
To put it simply, this is a must-win fixture for Italy.
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