What to watch for in Saturday's World Cup qualifiers

Gareth Southgate faces Malta in his first game as England manager, Germany test Czech Republic's mettle and can Denmark stop free-scoring Poland?

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Denmark in sights of Poland's dynamic duo
Denmark were the only team to record an opening win amid a lacklustre start to this section, but you sense they will need to improve on their tight 1-0 home victory over Armenia as they travel to Poland. Arkadiusz Milik has settled well at Napoli, and he and Robert Lewandowski will take some subduing – Poland were top scorers in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying. Understandably, it is a defence breached just twice in France this summer that is the greater concern for Adam Nawałka, after his side let slip a two-goal lead in Kazakhstan last month. Complacency, perhaps.
Poland v Denmark, 20:45CEST

Other games in Group E
Montenegro v Kazakhstan, 18:00CEST
Armenia v Romania, 18:00CEST

Oliver Bierhoff scored Germany's golden goal in 1996
Oliver Bierhoff scored Germany's golden goal in 1996©Getty Images

The Czechs' World Cup struggles
The Czech Republic are EURO ever-presents since being edged out by Oliver Bierhoff's golden goal in the decider in 1996, their first competition as an independent nation. Curiously, they have only once graced a World Cup – in 2006 – and they ended the past two campaigns third in their group. September's goalless home draw with Northern Ireland was underwhelming, and defeat by a Germany team so impressive against Norway would leave them with further ground to make up in the pool. Get a result in Hamburg, though, and suddenly the outlook becomes rosy.
Germany v Czech Republic, 20:45CEST

Other games in Group C
Azerbaijan v Norway, 18:00CEST
Northern Ireland v San Marino, 20:45CEST

Jamie Vardy, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott in training
Jamie Vardy, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott in training©Getty Images

Southgate eager to impress
Following Sam Allardyce's departure after one game in charge, the England managerial baton is handed to Gareth Southgate – for the next four matches at least. The former defender has continued his predecessor's commitment to evolution over revolution, promoting Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Michael Keane from his U21 set-up. That means there are now six players in the squad who have already played under Southgate, while Wayne Rooney – retained as captain – had five games playing alongside him for England back in 2004.
England v Malta, 18:00CEST

Other games in Group F
Slovenia v Slovakia, 20:45CEST
Scotland v Lithuania, 20:45CEST

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