European Qualifiers: Robert Lewandowski, Alan Dzagoev, Koke, Gareth Bale & Arjen Robben live on Sky
As the European Qualifiers return this week, Sky Sports brings you a host of games to enjoy. Adam Bate looks at five of the stars worth looking out for in the coming round of fixtures…
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 14/11/14 11:33am
The fourth round of European Qualifiers will see teams attempt to strengthen their case for a place at Euro 2016 - and there are some huge games to watch on Sky Sports.
As well as a much-anticipated clash between Scotland and the Republic of Ireland at the weekend, there will be a host of stars in action across our channels.
Poland and Wales are looking to extend their impressive starts to European Qualifying, while traditional heavyweights Spain and Netherlands will aim to get back on track after early struggles.
Here are some of the key men in action on Sky Sports during international week…
Robert Lewandowski – Georgia v POLAND, 4.55pm, Friday, Sky Sports 5 HD
Poland’s captain has been the spearhead behind his country’s ascent to the top of Group D ahead of the likes of Germany, Republic of Ireland and Scotland. Lewandowksi scored four times in the previous away tie against Gibraltar and will need to be on form again in Georgia if the Poles are to maintain their advantage.
That hasn’t always been the case for the target man since finally linking up with Bayern Munich in the summer. Such are the expectations at the club, Lewandowski’s six goals in 15 games – including a missed penalty – have made for an underwhelming start to his career in Bavaria. Back in a Poland shirt, expect Georgia to feel the force of his hunger for goals.
Alan Dzagoev – Austria v RUSSIA, 4.55pm, Saturday, Sky Sports 5 HD
Fresh from a starring role in CSKA Moscow’s unexpected Champions League win at Manchester City, where he linked up well with goalscoring hero Seydou Doumbia, Dzagoev will be hoping his return to form will be mirrored with the national team. Will Fabio Capello finally acquiesce to the calls for the popular playmaker to become a regular starter for Russia?
The Italian coach has not been convinced thus far and didn’t give Russia’s star man from Euro 2012 a single start at the World Cup in Brazil last summer. Dzagoev did get a chance against Moldova last time out and will hope to feature again against group leaders Austria on Saturday. A win in Vienna would take Russia top of Group G and could underline the talent midfielder’s renaissance.
Koke – SPAIN v Belarus, 7.30pm, Saturday, Sky Sports 5 HD
Spain are a team trying to rebuild after the World Cup embarrassment that signalled the end of an era, but the early teething problems have included a qualifying defeat to Slovakia and they are already playing catch-up in Group C. A home tie against Belarus should prove little problem and offers the chance to instil some confidence in a new-look team that has Koke in a prominent role.
Xavi says the Atletico Madrid man is “marked out as the conductor of Spain's orchestra for the next 10 years” and the 22-year-old has certainly been a focal point so far, having played all but 12 minutes of Spain’s qualifying campaign. After the Slovakia disappointment, Koke won the next six games for club and country so expect him to be high on confidence for La Roja at the weekend.
Gareth Bale – Belgium v WALES, 4.30pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 5 HD
When you play for Real Madrid you’d expect life at Europe’s most successful club to remain the priority. But having already won the Champions League in his debut season in Spain, Bale could be forgiven if what’s driving him right now is the thought of major tournament action with Wales in the summer of 2016.
The flying winger was injured on international duty for Wales last time out but returned to score the opening goal in his comeback start against Rayo Vallecano at the weekend and is back for his country’s trip to Belgium on Saturday. Wales go into the game top of Group B and have the chance to go six points clear of Belgium with a win. If Bale can outperform Eden Hazard then who knows?
Arjen Robben – NETHERLANDS v Lativa, 4.45pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 1 HD
Robben goes into his country’s game at home to Latvia on Sunday on fine form for his all-conquering club Bayern Munich. The winger netted a brace in a spectacular 7-1 win at Roma and scored a late penalty winner against Borussia Dortmund in his last start. In fact, Robben has won all 10 matches he’s played for Bayern so far this season.
It’s been a very different story with the national team this season. Robben played the full game in a shock defeat to Iceland that leaves the Dutch going into the fourth round of games six points off second spot. Failure against Latvia and coach Guus Hiddink will be in big trouble. Indeed, he’s already said it would be “logical” to quit in those circumstances. Robben to the rescue?
Watch these European Qualifiers and more - plus highlights of England v Slovenia - on Sky Sports.