It’s the final round of fixtures in this international break, and the World Cup qualifiers are beginning to take shape.
Ok, so we’re only two games in to the qualification process, but that it’s already clear which countries are well on course for Russia.
Last weekend’s games did whip up some interesting results, thought.
Italy and Spain thrashed out a 1-1 draw, Sweden held Netherlands to the same score line and Wales could only manage two score draws against Austria and George respectively.
England, meanwhile, got the Gareth Southgate era off to the perfect start with a comfortable 2-0 win over minnows Malta at Wembley. It wasnt exactly impressive but it was comfortable; a win is a win.
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Lithuania have drawn their opening two games of Group F but a home tie against minnows Malta provides the perfect chance for them to get their first three points on the board and put pressure on the likes of Slovenia and Scotland above them.
A credible 1-1 draw with Scotland on Saturday will have also given them confidence heading in to this fixture.
Poland registered their first win of the qualifiers with a narrow 3-2 victory at home to Denmark at the weekend. A Lewandoski hat-trick saw them race in to a 3-0 lead before the Danes pulled two back, but Poland eventually held out for the win.
They host group whipping boys Armenia, who were thrashed 5-0 by the Romanians in their own back yard on Saturday, and it should be another chance for Lewandowski to run riot in front of goal.
Denmark almost completed a heroic comeback from 3-0 down against Poland at the weekend and but couldn’t find that all important equaliser.
Their opponents, Montenegro, currently top Group E on goal difference but laboured to a 1-1 draw with Romania in their last away fixture in this group, which suggests they could struggle again on their travels against a strong Denmark side.
It is no surprise that Gareth Southgate got off to a winning start as England manager on Saturday, such was the lack of threat Malta brought with them to Wembley.
A trip to Slovenia provides a much different threat all together, though, and could even be a potential banana skin for the Three Lions.
However, England have not lost a qualifier for any tournament since 2009 – 30 games – winning their last 13, and they should expect to extend that impressive run.
Anyone playing San Marino should be expecting to come away three points and much improved goal difference.
That’s no disrespect to San Marino, who always turn up and try their best every qualification campaign but just never seem to improve.
Norway have lost their opening two games of Group C, too, but they’ll be relishing the chance to get points on the board here, as as improve their -4 goal difference.
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