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European powers resume qualifying with easy games

European powers resume qualifying with easy games

The European powers resume qualifying for the 2014 World Cup on Friday with some of the easiest matches they'll play on the road to Brazil.
World champion Spain hosts Finland, Group I's bottom team, hoping to avoid picking up any suspensions or injuries before taking on France next week. France is behind Spain only on goal difference and welcomes Georgia to Paris.
"It's a turning point, undoubtedly," France striker Olivier Giroud said. "If we're still ahead of Spain after these two matches, we will have cause for hope."
The road to Brazil is smoother for the Netherlands which will be looking to maintain its perfect record when the Group D leader hosts lowly Estonia.
Germany has experienced one setback in Group C _ a draw _ but has a three-point lead as it hosts a Kazakhstan side with just one point.
England is in the weakest position of the leading teams, sitting two points behind Montenegro in Group H, but playing point-less San Marino on Friday while the leader is at Moldova.
In Madrid, Vicente del Bosque will break Ladislao Kubala's record of 68 games as Spain coach on Friday at Sporting Gijon's El Molinon Stadium.
Del Bosque has a record of 57 wins, five draws and six losses with Spain, including the title success at the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship.
"I am not worried about the record," Del Bosque said. "I am worried about Finland and that my team arrives in the best possible condition to get the three points."
Finland is last in the group with one point from two games, while Georgia is three points from the bottom and the top.
Facing Georgia should be an opportunity for France's misfiring strikers to find the net, if they can breach their expected ultra-defensive opponents.
Karim Benzema has not scored in his past 10 matches for France while Olivier Giroud has scored only twice in 15 appearances.
"For me it's a bit difficult and Karim prefers playing center forward," Giroud said. "But in a match where we have to score goals then why not pair us together?"
In Group C, Germany isn't even likely to deploy a striker against Kazakhstan, with Mario Gomez the only recognizable striker in the squad and Mario Goetze being considered for a Spain-style "false nine" role.
Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger welcomes comparisons with Spain.


Updated : 2021-07-29 18:26 GMT+08:00