International weekends are often a bit of a downer. But at least this weekend we’ve got some pretty decent, competitive fixtures to look forward to, rather than the pointless friendly games that regularly punctuate the domestic calendar.
It helps too when we’re at the final knockings of a World Cup qualifying campaign. Some nations have already qualified, but for the majority, their fate could hinge on what happens in the weekend games.
Unfortunately, a lot of these games will overlap, so you may not be able to watch five games back-to-back. I know, I know, sorry for that. But I’ll do my best to help you make an informed decision on what games to tune into this weekend.
All kick off times are Eastern Time
Croatia vs Belgium, Friday Noon, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN.com, ESPN3.com
Marc Wilmots’ Belgium side seem to be everyone’s pick to win the World Cup next summer. But they’re not there yet. Not quite.
They need a point from their last two games to secure qualification. But that could fast become a point from one game, as they face the notoriously difficult task of traveling to to Croatia for their penultimate qualifying game.
Igor Stimac’s side have only conceded once on their own patch in the entire campaign, and still have much to play for themselves. A win here would put them just two points behind their opponents, with a game still to go.
The Belgium forwards that will be looking to breach the impressive Croatian defense will include Christian Benteke, who has been called-up despite not playing a game for Villa since his injury back in September. But Romelu Lukaku could yet lead the line after his red-hot form for Everton has seen him net four times in just two-and-a-half Premier League games.
England vs Montenegro, Friday 3pm, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes
It all comes down to this for Roy Hodgson and his England team. Whilst the build-up to the game has centered – somewhat typically for the Three Lions – mainly around off-pitch matters, the England team need to win both of their final two games to be certain of their World Cup place.
The first game of a Wembley double header will be against Montenegro, who themselves still harbor hopes of making it to next summer’s showpiece. And they’ve proven to be tricky opponents in the past for England, having drawn on the previous three occasions the two teams have met.