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Records on the line as World Cup race resumes

Published: Monday 8 October 2012, 16.01CET
Fabio Capello's Russia face Portugal in the pick of Friday's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches as a host of countries strive to continue their promising starts to the campaign.
Records on the line as World Cup race resumes
Belgium train on Monday ahead of their qualifier against Serbia ©AFP/Getty Images

Published: Monday 8 October 2012, 16.01CET

Records on the line as World Cup race resumes

Fabio Capello's Russia face Portugal in the pick of Friday's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches as a host of countries strive to continue their promising starts to the campaign.

A host of teams will put their perfect starts to the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign on the line when the latest round of matches take place on Friday.

Spain began their world title defence last month with a narrow victory in Georgia – their sole fixture in Group I so far – and with memories of that triumph still fresh in the mind, head east again to face point-less Belarus in Minsk.

La Roja will attempt to extend their unbeaten run in competitive games to 22 against a side containing several players who helped FC BATE Borisov to a surprise 3-1 UEFA Champions League success against FC Bayern München in the same stadium last week.

France, the other country with a 100% record in that five-team section, are not in action until Tuesday, when they face Spain in Madrid in arguably the most attractive fixture of the European qualification process.

After a fine start as Russia coach, Fabio Capello faces his sternest test yet: a home date with Portugal, who also have six points but had to come from behind against Luxembourg in their first away outing in Group F.

Germany won all ten matches en route to UEFA EURO 2012 and have continued that impressive form in Group C. The Mannschaft go in search of their 13th successive qualification victory when they visit the Republic of Ireland, who overturned a 1-0 deficit in the last two minutes of their opening game in Kazakhstan. Sweden, meanwhile, play the Faroe Islands aiming to make it six points out of six.

In Group D, the Netherlands host Andorra while Romania, who also triumphed in their first two engagements, face Turkey in Istanbul. Another successful night for both nations would set the stage perfectly for when the teams go head-to-head in Bucharest on Tuesday, a rematch of their group stage encounter at UEFA EURO 2008, which the Oranje won 2-0 with goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie.

Switzerland, the only side with a full complement of points in Group E, entertain Norway. Elsewhere, the top two in Group G, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece meet in Athens. A full list of Friday's 24 matches can be found here.

Last updated: 21/01/13 23.56CET

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