Thursday's World Cup qualifying preview: France host Netherlands, Portugal welcome Faroe Islands
Last Updated: 30/08/17 12:56pm
World Cup Qualifiers return to Sky Sports on Thursday as France look to take the lead in Group A when they host the Netherlands.
France are currently level on 13 points from six games with Sweden, although they have an inferior goal difference to leave them in second place.
They will be aiming for all three points against the Netherlands, live on Sky Sports Football, to have a chance of topping the group, although Anthony Martial and new Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele were omitted from the latest squad, while Raphael Varane is injured.
For the Netherlands, Thursday's trip to the Stade de France could be a potentially crucial match in their qualification for next year's World Cup. With the Oranje currently third in Group A - three points behind France - they arguably need to take at least a point to keep any hopes of an automatic path to Russia alive.
They lost 1-0 to Les Bleus in the reverse fixture last October, and will be without Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Ake, Daryl Janmaat and Jeffrey Bruma in defence, although Robin van Persie has earned a recall.
Elsewhere in Group A, leaders Sweden will be aiming for a fourth successive 3-0 victory against Bulgaria when they travel to Sofia on Thursday.
The bottom two sides in the group also play each other as Luxembourg welcome Belarus to the Stade Josy Barthel, with the hosts' solitary point so far coming from a 1-1 draw with their visitors this week during the reverse fixture in October.
Portugal are also in World Cup qualifying action on Thursday as they host the Faroe Islands, with the Euro 2016 winners currently second in Group B with 15 points. Lars Olsen's side - who are currently in fourth spot - will also be hoping to avoid another 6-0 defeat by Fernando Santos' men.
Group leaders Switzerland welcome Andorra, who, somewhat surprisingly, are not currently bottom of the pile and have amassed four points. The side who do occupy sixth spot of Group B, Lativa, travel to Hungary.
Belgium will be looking to extend their lead at the top of Group H - currently with 16 points - and maintain their unbeaten run in World Cup qualification so far as they host bottom of the table Gibraltar, who are yet to register a point.
Second place Greece - who trail Roberto Martinez' side by four points - host fifth place Estonia at the Karaiskakis Stadium and will be hoping to pick up maximum points after a run of three successive draws in qualification matches.
Finally, in Group H, the two mid-tale teams meet as Bosnia and Herzegovina travel to Cyprus with the visitors looking to leapfrog Greece into second spot with just one point currently separating the sides.
Watch France v the Netherlands live on Sky Sports Football from 7.40pm on Thursday with the remainder of the matches available on the Sky Sports Football red button from 7.45pm.