Turkey and their coach Guus Hiddink are on a revenge mission when they visit Germany for the showdown between Group A's early leaders, in one of three games being played in the section on Friday. The countries have not met since Germany defeated Turkey 3-2 in an exciting semi-final at UEFA EURO 2008 while Hiddink has his own painful memories of a last-four loss to the Germans when in charge of Korea Republic at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Germany v Turkey, Berlin
Both teams have started with two victories and few would disagree with Germany coach Joachim Löw's assertion that Turkey are his side's "toughest opponents" in the pool. Whatever the outcome, Turkey boss Guus Hiddink says there will be a "football festival" at the Olympiastadion given the large Turkish expatriate community in Berlin, in what will be a particularly big occasion for Germany playmaker Mesut Özil. "I am especially motivated," said the 21-year-old, who is of Turkish extraction.
Löw's biggest decision is how to replace the injured Bastian Schweinsteiger, with Toni Kroos most likely to occupy that central midfield berth. Turkey, victorious only once in seven trips to Germany, are missing midfielder Selçuk Şahin who has torn knee ligaments while Arda Turan is struggling with a groin problem he picked up in training on Tuesday.
Kazakhstan v Belgium, Astana
After narrow losses to Germany and Turkey, Belgium will be determined to collect their first points in Astana, where Georges Leekens is without centre-backs Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany. "It's a pity, as they had taken on leadership roles and brought a good atmosphere to the team," the coach said. Leekens may therefore hand Dedryck Boyata his debut and, with front men Moussa Dembélé and Christian Benteke also unavailable, give forward Yassine El Ghanassy a first senior appearance. Kazakhstan lost their first qualifier 3-0 to Turkey and given coach Bernd Storck's admission that he is "building a team for the future", he would probably settle for the 2-2 comeback draw the Kazakhs achieved when playing Belgium in Almaty in UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying.
Austria v Azerbaijan, Vienna
Berti Vogts takes his Azerbaijan side to face Austria, the country against whom he made his 96th and last international appearance for Germany – scoring an own goal in a 3-2 defeat at the 1978 World Cup. His squad includes just two foreign-based players – defender Rashad F Sadygov and winger Mahir Shukurov – as he seeks a marked improvement on the 6-1 drubbing by Germany in September. After beating Kazakhstan 2-0 in their opening qualifier, Dietmar Constantini's Austria will aim for more of the same. "Not only do we want the three points, but we want to win with a good performance," said the coach, who has brought Marko Arnautović back into the fold from the Under-21s. Yasin Pehlivan has replaced the injured Emanuel Pogatetz.
A preview of the next set of fixtures in Group A on Tuesday – Azerbaijan v Turkey, Kazakhstan v Germany, and Belgium v Austria – will be published at the weekend.
Group A table
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