It's a massive week around the globe as crucial qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia take center stage. Juventus have 14 players called up for these qualifiers (FULL LIST) so it's time to take a look at what's at stake for our Bianconeri.
A closer look at the Juventus players on International Duty
Italy travel to the Santiago Bernabeu to face Spain on 1 September, with both sides currently tied for points at the top of European Qualifying Group G on 16 points a-piece. Spain are in pole position, with a better goal difference of +18 to the Azzurri’s +14.
The two teams couldn’t be separated when they faced each other last October, at the now Allianz Stadium. Vitolo put Spain ahead in the 55th minute, but a Daniele De Rossi penalty eight minutes from time ensured that the match in Turin finished 1-1.
After tackling Spain, Italy will then head to Reggio Emilia to play Israel at the Mapei Stadium on 5 September. Manager Giampiero Ventura will have a host of Bianconeri players to choose from as Gianluigi Buffon, Federico Bernardeschi, Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele Rugani and Andrea Barzagli have all been selected for duty.
TOUGH TEST IN TURKEY
Croatia play host to what should be a straight-forward match against Kosovo on 1 September, having won 6-0 away back in October, with Juventus’ own Mario Mandzukic grabbing a hat-trick.
However, the real test for Ante Cacic’s team will be a trip to Turkey on 5 September, with the Turks just two points behind Croatia as things stand.
GERMANY LARGE AND IN CHARGE
Germany hold a five-point lead at the top of Group C and a win for Joachim Low’s men away to the Czech Republic on 1 September, will see them guaranteed at least a play-off spot for next summer’s World Cup.
After their trip to Prague, Die Mannschaft will head to Sami Khedira’s former stomping ground to play Norway in Stuttgart.
The Germans will be in a confident mood of taking a huge step towards World Cup qualification, as their miserly defence has seen them ship only one goal in qualification.
IN POLE POSITION
Wojciech Szczesny’s Poland are sitting pretty at the top of Group E with a six-point lead over their opponents.
However, they face a tricky tie away to Denmark who are in third spot, and are still in the hunt for World Cup qualification, on 1 September. They then host Kazakhstan on 4 September, who are bottom of the group and are out of contention to reach Russia next year.
SWISS FANCYING THEIR CHANCES
Switzerland currently occupy top spot in Group B, having won all six of their matches. Stephan Lichtsteiner’s men face the two sides bottom of the group when they host Andorra on 31 August and then go to Latvia on 3 September. At least one victory in the two matches will guarantee the Swiss at least a play-off spot.
BIG NIGHT IN PARIS
Juventus legend, Didier Deschamps will be hoping his squad which includes France and Juventus’ number 14, Blaise Matuidi, can live up to the occasion when they host the Netherlands on 31 August. France are second in Group A, with Sweden leading the standings on goal difference and the Netherlands three points behind Les Blues.
France then host Luxembourg in Toulouse on 3 September, with the away side having already been eliminated from World Cup contention.
BOSNIA WITH IT ALL TO DO
Bosnia and Herzegovina see themselves in third place in Group H, one point behind Greece, and five points behind leaders Belgium.
Miralem Pjanic ‘s men will first play away to Cyprus on 31 August, where he will come up against Juventus primavera player, Grigoris Kastanos. They then have another away trip to Gibraltar, who are rock bottom of the group - on zero points and eliminated from qualifying.
MOROCCO SEEKING WINS AND GOALS
Morocco haven’t made the most inspiring start to the African 3rd Round of World Cup Qualifying, but still have time to turn things around. Hervé Renard’s team are second in Group C, having begun qualification with two consecutive 0-0 draws. Medhi Benatia and company host bottom side, Mali on 1 September, before travelling to take them on again on 5 September.
URUGUAY-ARGENTINA CLASICO FOR LA JOYA
Matchday 15 in South American World Cup Qualifying will see one of the oldest international rivalries resume on 31 August in Montevideo as Uruguay play host to Argentina.
Paulo Dybala’s team find themselves on the periphery of automatic qualification as they currently reside in fifth place, in the group’s only play-off spot, one point behind an automatic spot but also just two points ahead of Ecuador in sixth. Argentina know that they cannot afford a slip up in either this match or when they host Venezuela on 5 September in Buenos Aries.
COLOMBIA LOOKING GOOD FOR RUSSIA
Los Cafeteros find themselves second in the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying table and are on the road to the group’s bottom team, Venezuela on 31 August.
Then on 5 September, they have a mouth-watering game in Barranquilla when leaders Brazil come to town. Juan Cuadrado’s side lost 2-1 in Brazil earlier in qualifying.
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