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UEFA World Cup qualifying schedule and preview

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Hampden Park will play host to a crunch World Cup qualifying match as England heads north to face neighbors Scotland.

The two home nations, both in Group F of UEFA World Cup qualifying, are on two different trajectories. England is currently top of the group with 13 points and no defeats in five games while Scotland sit in fourth place on seven points, behind Slovakia and Slovenia.

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A loss for Scotland likely eliminates Gordon Strachan’s side from the 2018 World Cup, meaning even more than national pride is on the line Saturday for the noon eastern time kickoff.

Young Celtic starlet Kieran Tierney will have another chance to impress the scouts for Scotland while the Tottenham trio of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier will look to continue their strong form for the Three Lions.

Elsewhere in World Cup qualifying, the Netherlands, with Dick Advocaat back in charge, can boost itself into second place in Group A with a win over Luxembourg along with France winning on the road at Sweden. On Sunday in Group D action, Serbia and the Republic of Ireland look to put some distance from the rest of the pack at the top as Serbia takes on Wales and the Republic of Ireland faces Austria.

A couple of other matchups to watch are Iceland hosting Croatia, with Croatia having beaten Iceland last November and Poland, which are top of Group E, facing Romania.

Here’s a look at Friday through Sunday’s UEFA World Cup qualifying preview. Only the first-placed teams in the eight groups receive an automatic bid, so every game remains important from the team on top to the cellar dwellers.

Schedule


Friday

Group A

Netherlands vs. Luxembourg, 2:45 p.m.

Belarus vs. Bulgaria, 2:45 p.m.

Sweden vs. France, 2:45 p.m.

Group B

Faroe Islands vs. Switzerland, 2:45 p.m.

Andorra vs. Hungary, 2:45 p.m.

Latvia vs. Portugal, 2:45 p.m.

Group H

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Greece, 2:45 p.m.

Estonia vs. Belgium, 2:45 p.m.

Gibraltar vs. Cyprus, 2:45 p.m.

Saturday

Group C

Azerbaijan vs. Northern Ireland, noon

Norway vs. Czech Republic, 2:45 p.m.

Germany vs. San Marino, 2:45 p.m.

Group E

Kazakhstan vs. Denmark, noon

Poland vs. Romania, 2:45 p.m.

Montenegro vs. Armenia, 2:45 p.m.

Group F

Scotland vs. England, noon

Slovenia vs. Malta, noon

Lithuania vs. Slovakia, 2:45 p.m.

Sunday

Group D

Moldova vs. Georgia, noon

Republic of Ireland vs. Austria, 1 p.m.

Serbia vs. Wales 2:45 p.m.

Group I

Finland vs. Ukraine, noon

Iceland vs. Croatia, 2;45 p.m.

Kosovo vs. Turkey, 2;45 p.m.

Group G

FYR Macedonia vs. Spain, 2:45 p.m.

Israel vs. Albania, 2:45 p.m.

Italy vs. Liechtenstein, 2:45 p.m.

WATCH: Zlatan stunner answers Vela’s opener in El Trafico

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is walking it like he talks it, not that that’s anything new.

A few days after claiming superiority over LAFC superstar Carlos Vela, Ibrahimovic and his Galaxy trailed early in El Trafico via a Vela penalty.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Naturally, Zlatan took it upon himself to answer the bell with his 14th goal in 17 games.

Ibrahimovic chests a long ball onto his right foot, cooking Eduard Atuesta by pushing it into position for a tremendous lash into the LAFC goal.

And if you haven’t been following LAFC’s amazing season, Atuesta’s probably been the side’s best player after Vela, who now has 20 goals in 20 games.

Wizard stuff.

Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame

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A half-hour of the big guns wasn’t enough to get Jurgen Klopp a result against his former team.

Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster scored for Liverpool in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.

Paco Alcacer, Thomas Delaney, and Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the Black Yellow, who led 3-1 when mass changes began with Virgil Van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, and Andrew Robertson entering the match.

Liverpool faces Sevilla on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Alcacer with the ball in the box is a bad idea, and the Spaniard took advantage of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to smash home from a yard outside the six.

Wilson leveled the score before halftime, but Delaney made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute when a long diagonal ball beat the Reds line and a low pass across the box went undetected.

It was 3-1 via a clever Bruun Larsen touch to wrong foot James Milner, but Brewster brought the Reds back to within one when he converted a 75th minute penalty won by Ben Woodburn.

Liverpool was without Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, who are on break after deep summer tournament runs.

Eriksen offered big Spurs wages, but Atletico Madrid lurks

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Christian Eriksen may trade London for Madrid after all, but Marca claims it’ll be Real Madrid’s rivals who earn the services of Tottenham’s Danish playmaker.

Eriksen, 27, scored 10 goals with 17 assists for Spurs in all competitions last season, and was reportedly ready to spread his wings for Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Kean to Everton? ]

But pro-Real site Marca says Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Eriksen at the Bernabeu, and that Diego Simeone feels differently… should Atletico Madrid fail at landing his prime option.

That’s James Rodriguez, who remains property of Real and that’s a problem.

So Eriksen to Atleti, helping to replace Antoine Griezmann? It’s possible.

From Marca.com:

Just last November, the London club put a 250 million euro price tag on his head, but now appear keen to move him on. The next few days will likely reveal a lot about what’s to come.

So we may get an idea of whether this report has any guts to it by next week. There could be some sense to it, but Metro claims that Spurs are offering Eriksen an “enormous” contract to keep him in North London.

Enormous means a doubling of Eriksen’s wages, and the Dane is said to be happy in England. Might Spurs hold off the finest of La Liga and Serie A after all.

Report: Everton could land Juventus’ Kean after all

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Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.

Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.

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The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club. He could join Michael Keane, if he’s keen.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).

The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.

Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.