Bulgaria’s perfect omen
This is the seventh time Bulgaria and Luxembourg have been drawn together in a qualifying group and the Grand Duchy’s record makes unhappy reading: played 12, lost 12. Bulgaria are certainly keen for game 13 not to be unlucky. “We should not underestimate Luxembourg,” forward Dimitar Rangelov said. “We must not allow Luxembourg to surprise us in our own stadium.”
Bulgaria v Luxembourg, 20:45CEST
Dutch day of reckoning
Sweden’s life after Zlatan Ibrahimović begins against surprise UEFA EURO 2016 non-qualifiers the Netherlands. Dutch morale will hardly have been boosted by Thursday’s 2-1 home loss to Greece, but Oranje coach Danny Blind said: “The Greeks hardly threatened our goal. I can remember three moments and two resulted in goals. Luck was not on our side. The second ball often fell for the Greeks.”
Sweden v Netherlands, 20:45CEST
Deschamps not resting on laurels
France put their UEFA EURO 2016 final defeat behind them on Thursday with an impressive 3-1 friendly win in Italy and Didier Deschamps, who has made seven changes from his squad for the home continental finals, said: “You can always do better but yes, I’m satisfied, especially having scored three goals against an Italy side who rarely concede.”
Belarus v France, 20:45CEST
Basel blues for Portugal?
Portugal’s first competitive fixture as European champions takes them to Switzerland and St. Jakob-Park. It is a ground that doesn’t hold good memories for the Seleção, who lost both of their matches in Basel at UEFA EURO 2008, a 2-0 group defeat by the co-hosts preceding a 3-2 reverse to Germany in the last eight. Fernando Santos will want to avoid a hat-trick of disappointments at the venue and prolong the feel-good factor engendered by his squad’s triumph in France.
Switzerland v Portugal, 20:45CEST
Hungary’s fresh challenge
Hungary secured two narrow victories against the Faroe Islands during UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying in a run that would take them to the last 16. However, coach Bernd Storck has already turned the page and cautioned: “It will not be easy dealing with these World Cup qualifiers. It’s much more difficult to qualify than for the EURO as there are fewer places on offer.” He added: “A new generation will enter the national team; we are working with our youngest ever group.”
Faroe Islands v Hungary, 20:45CEST
There is only one team in world football that Latvia have played multiple times and always beaten: Tuesday’s hosts Andorra, whom they overcame in friendlies in 1997, 1998 and 2008. More recently, Latvia lifted their third straight Baltic Cup in June and are unbeaten in five outings in 2016 after Friday’s 3-1 friendly win against Luxembourg.
Andorra v Latvia, 20:45CEST
Bosnian plans back on track
Estonia will want to improve on their 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying results against Bosnia and Herzegovina – the Dragons having won 7-0 in Zenica and 2-0 in Tallinn in what was their breakthrough campaign, eventually reaching the play-offs. Not all of coach Mehmed Baždarević’s preparations have gone smoothly, though. “We had some problems with transportation due to the German airports’ strike, but now everything is going according to plan,” he said.
Bosnia and Herzegovina v Estonia, 20:45CEST
Difficult start for Martínez
Belgium overcame Cyprus twice on the road to UEFA EURO 2016 yet much has changed since the Red Devils’ quarter-final exit to Wales, with coach Marc Wilmots replaced by Roberto Martínez and his assistant Thierry Henry. After a difficult reception from the home fans in Brussels following Thursday’s 2-0 friendly loss to Spain, Martínez said: “You can’t expect major change in just three days and this result has no real meaning. What I do want to see, though, is passion and pride in wearing the national team jersey.”
Cyprus v Belgium, 20:45CEST
Greece seek revival
Both Gibraltar and Greece finished bottom of their UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying groups. If Gibraltar could take some pride from their debut display, there was no consolation for the 2004 champions, who had been top-seeded but lost twice to the Faroe Islands. Still, results have started to turn for Greece coach Michael Skibbe, whose side triumphed 2-1 in Australia in June before upsetting the Netherlands 2-1 in Eindhoven on Thursday.
Gibraltar v Greece, 20:45CEST