Bruno Fernandes.

World Cup place at stake for European Reds

Monday 28 March 2022 14:00

With strong Manchester United representation, Portugal and Sweden are preparing for their vital World Cup play-offs, with a place in the finals at stake.

Diogo Dalot, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo all started as Portugal defeated Turkey 3-1 to progress but North Macedonia, rather than Italy, will provide the barrier to a spot in Friday's draw for the big event in Qatar, following their shock win over the Azzurri.

Defenders Pepe and Joao Cancelo are back for Fernando Santos's side and the coach had all 26 players available for training in advance of the tie at Porto's Estadio de Dragao.

Anthony Elanga made his senior Sweden debut against Czech Republic.

Englishman Anthony Taylor is the referee for the 19:45 BST encounter as Portugal look to make a sixth consecutive appearance in the finals, with North Macedonia attempting to make the huge stage for the first time.

Sweden are also one game away from Qatar. Their reward for a 1-0 extra-time triumph over Czech Republic is a trip to the Stadion Slaska for a crunch final with Poland.

Victor Lindelof skippered the team in the semi-final victory, and Anthony Elanga came off the bench for his senior international debut.

Former Red Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Newcastle United defender Emil Krafth are available again after suspension but Martin Olsson has withdrawn from the squad and Albin Ekdal has emerged as an injury doubt.

The other European section play-off final is between Wales and either Scotland or Ukraine, with the date of that fixture likely to be in June.

Pellistri to miss Uruguay’s final qualifier Article

The United loanee impressed on international duty last week but has been denied a chance to do so again.

Other Reds potentially in action on Tuesday night include key World Cup qualifiers for Zidane Iqbal's Iraq, at Syria, while Hannibal's Tunisia take on Mali. Iraq are currently fourth in the table, a point behind United Arab Emirates. Tunisia hold a 1-0 first-leg lead from the first match in Mali.

There is also the intriguing prospect of Eric Bailly coming up against England at Wembley. Luke Shaw, a scorer against Switzerland last time out, and Harry Maguire could well feature for the hosts against Ivory Coast, with our club captain already a confirmed starter according to manager Gareth Southgate.

Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba, if they shake off knocks, will be in action for France against South Africa.

Scotland, and Scott McTominay, are away to Austria, while Wales, and Dylan Levitt, face Czech Republic. 

Uruguay (Facundo Pellistri, a doubt, and Edinson Cavani) and Brazil (Alex Telles and Fred) play against Chile and Bolivia respectively, in the early hours of Wednesday morning UK time.

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